The Project Gutenberg EBook of On Prayer and The Contemplative Life, by
St. Thomas Aquinas
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Title: On Prayer and The Contemplative Life
Author: St. Thomas Aquinas
Translator: Hugh Pope
Release Date: August 10, 2007 [EBook #22295]
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ON PRAYER AND THE CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE
S. THOMAS AQUINAS
VERY REV. HUGH POPE, O.P., S.T.M.
AUTHOR OF "THE CATHOLIC STUDENT'S 'AIDS' TO THE BIBLE," ETC.
WITH A PREFACE BY
VERY REV. VINCENT McNABB, O.P., S.T.L.
R. & T. WASHBOURNE, LTD.
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON
AND AT MANCHESTER, BIRMINGHAM, AND GLASGOW
1914 _All rights reserved_
J.P. ARENDZEN, D.D.,
EDM. CAN. SURMONT,
_Die 20 Septembris, 1913._
"Te Trina Deitas unaque poscimus
Sic nos Tu visita, sicut Te colimus:
Per Tuas semitas duc nos quo tendimus,
Ad lucem, quam inhabitas!"
S. Thomas's Hymn for Matins on the
_Feast of Corpus Christi_.
The present generation in the fervour of its repentance is like to cast
off too much. So many false principles and hasty deductions have been
offered to its parents and grandparents in the name of science that it
is becoming unduly suspicious of the scientific method.
A century ago men's minds were sick unto death from too much science and
too little mysticism. To-day the danger is that even the drawing-rooms
are scented with a mysticism that anathematizes science.
At no time since the days of S. Thomas was the saint's scientific method
more lacking. Everywhere there is need for a mystic doctrine, which in
itself is neither hypnotism nor hysteria, and in its expression is
neither superlative nor apostrophic, lest the hungered minds of men die
of surfeit following on starvation.
The message and method of S. Thomas are part of that strange rigidity of
the thirteenth century which is one of the startling paradoxes of the
ages of faith. It is surely a consolation that these ages of a faith
which moved mountains, or at least essayed to remove the Turk, were
minded to express their beliefs in the coat of mail of human reason! The
giants of those days, who in the sphere of literature were rediscovering
verse and inventing rhyme, and who in every sphere of knowledge were
bringing forth the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, were not so
blinded by the white light of vision as to disown the Greeks. They made
the _Ethics_ of Aristotle the four-square walls of the city of God; they
expressed the mysteries of the Undivided Three in terms of the
Syllogism. Thus they refused to cut themselves off from the aristocracy
of human genius. They laid hands--but not violent hands--on the heritage
of the ages. No philosophers have ever equalled their bold and
lowly-minded profession of faith in the solidarity of human reason. For
this cause S. Thomas, who is their spokesman, has now become an absolute
necessity of thought. Unless the great Dumb Ox is given a hearing, our
mysticism will fill, not the churches, but the asylums and the little
self-authorized Bethels where every man is his own precursor and
That S. Thomas is to be accepted as a master of mysticism may be judged
from the following facts in the life of a mystic of the mystics, S. John
of the Cross:
"It has been recorded that during his studies he particularly relished
psychology; this is amply borne out by his writings. S. John was not
what one could term a scholar. He was, however, intimately acquainted
with the _Summa_ of S. Thomas Aquinas, as almost every page of his works
proves.... He does not seem to have ever applied himself to the study of
the Fathers.... As has already been stated, the whole work (_The Ascent
of Mount Carmel_) is based upon the view S. Thomas Aquinas takes of the
essence and operations of the senses and of the faculties of the soul,
and upon his treatise on the virtues."
S. Thomas hardly needs an imprimatur after six centuries of full trust.
But in the hard matters of mysticism, which he has treated as a scholar
should, it is reassuring to know that he has the approval, not only of
the scholars, but of the mystics.
VINCENT McNABB, O.P.
OF THE VIRTUE OF RELIGION
OF THE PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS WHO ARE IN HEAVEN
OF THE DIVISION OF LIFE INTO THE ACTIVE AND THE CONTEMPLATIVE
OF THE CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE
OF THE ACTIVE LIFE
OF THE COMPARISON BETWEEN THE ACTIVE AND THE CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE
ON THE RELIGIOUS STATE
INDEX OF TEXTS QUOTED OR EXPLAINED
The pages which follow call for little introduction. S. Thomas has left
us no formal treatise on Mystical Theology, though his teachings on this
subject have been collected from his various works and combined to form
such a treatise. Especially noteworthy is the work of the Spanish
Dominican Valgornera. No such synthesis has been attempted here. We
have simply taken from the _Summa Theologica_ the treatises on
_Religion_, on _Devotion_, _Prayer_, and the _Contemplative Life_, and
presented them in an English dress. When occasion offered we have added
to each portion appropriate passages from S. Augustine, S. Thomas's
master, and more rarely from the _Commentary_ on the _Summa_ by the
illustrious Cardinal Cajetan.
And we have been led to do this for several reasons. The Mystical life
is the life of union with God, and it is based essentially on Prayer and
Contemplation. But prayer and contemplation, though simple in
themselves, are yet fraught with difficulties and dangers unless we be
wisely guided. And as Father Faber shrewdly says: when we ask for
instruction in these things, let us by all means make appeal to those
whose names begin with S--let us, in other words, go to God's Saints.
And the reason is simple: these Saints are no mere idle sign-posts who
point the way but stand still themselves; they themselves have been
where they would have us go; they speak from no mere theoretical
knowledge; they themselves have tasted and seen that the Lord is sweet!
Further, it would have been easy to cull from S. Thomas's writings the
salient points of his teaching on these points, and to have presented
them in an attractive form. But had we done so the teachings of the
Saint would have lost much of their force, and readers might well have
doubted at times whether they really had before them the mind of S.
Thomas or that of the translator. It is preferable to read the Bible
than what men have said about the Bible. Unfortunately, it is the
fashion nowadays to consider S. Thomas's writings "out of date"! If the
perusal of these pages shall have induced some few at least to go to the
original and study it for themselves they will have more than fulfilled
the translator's desires.
Another reason which has weighed much with the translator and encouraged
him to undertake this task has been the suddenly awakened interest in
Mysticism and Mystical studies during the last decade. It has become the
fashion to talk about Mysticism, even to pose as Mystics, and--need it
be said?--those who talk the most on such subjects are those who know
the least. For those who have entered into the secret of the King are
ever the most reticent on such matters. At the same time we may welcome
this recent development, if only as a set-off against the Spiritualism
and occultism which have played such havoc with souls during a space of
over fifty years. The human soul, "naturally Christian," as Tertullian
would say, is also naturally Divine in the sense that, as S. Augustine
so often insists, no rest is possible for it save in God. Now those who
are familiar with the _Summa Theologica_ are aware that _Union with God_
is its keynote, or rather is the dominant note which rings out clear
again and again with its ever-repeated _Sursum Corda_! It is this that
gives such special value to the treatises here presented on Prayer and
the Contemplative Life. They flow from the pen of one who was literally
steeped in God and Divine things, and who is speaking to us of things
which he had himself tasted and seen. It is this that gives such
simplicity and charm to the whole of his teaching. He is not
experimenting; he is not speaking of theories; he is portraying to us
what was his everyday life.
Perhaps one of the commonest errors regarding the Spiritual life is the
confusion between the ordinary and the extraordinary ways of God. For
how many does not the Contemplative Life mean the life of ecstasy and
vision with which we are familiar in the lives of the Saints? For S.
Thomas, on the contrary, the Contemplative Life is but the natural life
of a man who is serving God and who devotes a certain portion of his
time to the study and contemplation of Divine things. Ecstasy and vision
he treats of in another place. They occupy a sphere apart. They belong
to God's extraordinary dealings with favoured souls, and while they
presuppose prayer and contemplation on the part of those so visited they
themselves form no integral part of the Contemplative Life; indeed, they
are the exception. Hence in these pages we shall find nought touching
Supernatural manifestations, such as visions, ecstasies, and
revelations; but we shall find what is of far greater use to us--a
Catechism on Devotion, Prayer, and Contemplation.
* * * * *
The main features of the Life of S. Thomas of Aquin are known to most of
those who are likely to read this book. His life at first sight seems of
such an even tenor that there is but little to record. Yet when we
penetrate beneath the surface we realize that he lived in stirring days,
and that his short span of fifty years was passed in the full light of
the world of the thirteenth century. Thomas was born in the beginning of
the year 1225 in the castle of Rocca-Secca, the ancestral home of the
Counts of Aquino, in the kingdom of Sicily. His future glory was
foretold to his mother, the Countess Theodora, by a hermit of that
neighbourhood who also foretold that his parents would endeavour to make
him a monk in the Benedictine Abbey of Monte Cassino, but that God had
other designs for him, since he was to be a Friar Preacher, a member of
the Order of the great S. Dominic who had just gone to his reward. The
prophecy was fulfilled to the letter. At the early age of five years he
was sent to the Abbey to be educated among the young nobles of the day,
as was then the custom. Even thus early he showed a remarkable maturity
of character, and his biographer, William of Tocco, dwells with delight
on the calm reserve of his childish days and on that eager seeking after
God which was to be his future glory.
From Monte Cassino Thomas passed to Naples to complete his studies. Here
he became conscious of his vocation, and offered himself to the
Dominicans. The Prior of the convent at Naples at that time was Father
John of S. Julian, who later became Patriarch of Jerusalem; he gave
the habit of the Order to Thomas, who was then but fourteen years of
age. His parents were indignant at this step, and did all in their power
to shake his determination. Fearing their recourse to the violent
methods then so common, the Dominicans sent Thomas to the convent of
Santa Sabina at Rome. But S. Thomas's brothers, at their mother's
bidding, seized upon the young man and carried him off in his religious
habit to his mother who kept him imprisoned for nearly two years.
During this time of anxiety nothing disturbed the Saint's equanimity,
and he made good use of his time by studying the Bible, the _Book of the
Sentences_--the Theological Manual of those days--and also Aristotle's
philosophical treatises. It was at this time that the diabolical attempt
upon his virtue was made--an attempt which the Saint resisted
effectually; in reward for his constancy he was miraculously girded with
a cincture by two Angels from Heaven. Failing in their attempt to
shake his determination, his brothers permitted him to escape, and he
returned to the convent at Naples in 1245. Thence he was sent by his
superiors to Rome, and shortly afterwards to Paris and Cologne to study
under Blessed Albert the Great. At Cologne he led the life of a simple
student, a life of recollection, prayer, and study. But his
extraordinary talents could not long remain hid. The post of Bachelor in
the famous House of Studies at Paris was vacant, and at the suggestion
of Cardinal Hugo à S. Caro, himself a Dominican, S. Thomas was appointed
by the Master-General of the Order to the vacant post. This was a blow
to the Saint's humility, but he accepted it under obedience. The
impression made by his teaching was extraordinary, and the words of
William of Tocco on this point are worth transcribing: "Erat enim novos
in sua lectione movens articulos, novum modum et clarum determinandi
inveniens, et novas reducens in determinationibus rationes: ut nemo qui
ipsum audisset nova docere, et novis rationibus dubia definire
dubitaret, quod eum Deus novi luminis radiis illustrasset, qui statim
tam certi c[oe]pisset esse judicii, ut non dubitaret novas opiniones
docere et scribere, quas Deus dignatus esset noviter inspirare." This
novelty in method was evidently remarkable, but, while provoking the
attacks of some, it attracted an immense crowd to his lectures, and this
not simply by reason of the novelty which characterized them, but by
reason of the supereminent sanctity of the teacher. "Dilectus Deo!"
cries out his biographer. "Qui scientiam tribuit; et acceptus hominibus,
quibus quasi novis radiis veritatis illuxit."
In 1253 or 1254 Thomas was, again much against his will, created Master
in Sacred Theology, and the remaining twenty years of his life were
wholly devoted to teaching, studying, and preaching, whether at Paris or
at Naples. Dignities and honours were frequently offered him, but he
succeeded in avoiding them all. He felt that his vocation was to study
and teach. And since his teaching was to be of things Divine, he felt
that he must needs be absorbed in such things, and that his life must be
wholly spent with God. This feature of his life is insisted on by his
biographers: "Men ever saw him of joyful mien, gentle and sweet, not
occupying himself with worldly affairs, but ever given to study, to
reading, to writing, and to prayer for the enlightening of the
faithful." Thus we are told that when Brother Reginald, who had been
Blessed Thomas's companion, returned from Fossa Nuova to Naples after
the Master's death to resume the lectures he had been giving there, he
burst into tears as he stood before the Brethren, and said: "Brothers, I
was forbidden by my Master to reveal during his life the marvels I had
seen. One of those marvels was that his knowledge, which so wondrously
surpassed that of other men, was not due to any human skill, but to the
merits of his prayers. For whenever he would study, or dispute, or read,
or write, or dictate, he would first betake himself to prayer in secret,
and there with many tears would implore light wherewith to search
rightly into the secret things of God. And by the merits of such prayer
it came to pass that, whereas previous to his prayer he had been in
doubt about the subject of his study, he always returned from it
illumined. And when any doubtful point occurred to him before he had had
recourse to prayer, he went to pray, and what had previously been
obscure was then Divinely made clear to him."
Truly characteristic of our Saint are those three petitions he was wont
to make: that he might never learn to love things of earth; that he
might never change his state of life; that God would reveal to him the
state of his brother Reginald, who had been put to death, unjustly, as
Thomas thought, by the Emperor Frederic. All three petitions were
granted, two of them, as he himself told Brother Reginald on his
deathbed, by the Blessed Virgin herself. "She appeared to him," says
William of Tocco, "and assured him regarding his life and his knowledge,
promised him, too, that God would grant him whatsoever he should ask
through her intercession, and told him, moreover, that he would never
change his state of life."
The following story is well known, but is too illustrative of the
Saint's character to be omitted: A dispute had arisen in the University
of Paris regarding the Accidents of the Holy Eucharist, and the Doctors
of the University decided to leave the decision with S. Thomas. The
responsibility was great, but the Saint according to his custom betook
himself to prayer and then wrote his answer to the difficulty. "But
since he would not dare," says William of Tocco, "to expound his opinion
in the Schools before the Masters of the University without first
consulting Him of Whom he was treating and to Whom he had prayed that he
might teach correctly, he came to the altar and there spread out the
pages he had written before Him; then, lifting up his hands to the
Crucifix, he prayed and said: 'O Lord Jesus Christ, Who art most truly
contained in this wondrous Sacrament and Who as Supreme Artificer ever
wondrously workest, I seek to understand Thee in this Sacrament and to
teach truly concerning Thee. Wherefore I humbly pray Thee that if what I
have written spring from Thee, and be true concerning Thee, then Thou
wouldest enable me to declare it and clearly expound it. But if I have
written ought which is not in harmony with Thy Faith and which accords
not with the Mysteries of this Sacrament, then I pray Thee that nought
may proceed from my mouth which deviates from the Catholic Faith.' Then
those who watched saw on a sudden Christ standing before the Saint and
on the paper he had written, and they heard Him say: 'Well hast thou
written of Me in this Sacrament of My Body, and well and truly hast thou
answered the question put to thee, as far, that is, as it can be
understood by man in this life, or expressed in human words.'"
And it was ever the same throughout his life: in God he sought God.
Hence his incessant meditation on the Holy Scriptures; hence his
diligent study of the writings of the Fathers of the Church. "Master,"
said a band of his students to him as they looked on Paris spread before
them--"Master, see what a lovely city Paris is! Would you not like to be
its owner?" And with a Saint's simplicity he replied: "Far rather would
I have the Homilies of Chrysostom on S. Matthew! For if this city were
mine then the task of governing it would take me away from the
contemplation of things Divine and deprive my soul of its
And his companion Reginald has told us how he studied to know the things
of God. For he tells us that when the Saint was occupied with his
Commentary on Isaias and could not arrive at any satisfactory
explanation of a certain passage he gave himself up to fasting and
prayer. Then one night Reginald heard voices in the Saint's cell, and
whilst he wondered what this might mean at that hour, S. Thomas came to
him and said: "Reginald, get up, light a candle, and take the book in
which you have been writing upon Isaias and make ready to write once
more." Then Reginald wrote whilst the Saint dictated as though he were
reading out of a book, with such facility did he speak. And then, at
Reginald's insistent petition, he said to him: "My son, you have seen
the affliction under which I have been of late owing to this passage of
Isaias which I have just been expounding, and you know how I besought
God with tears that I might understand it. God, then, this very night
had pity upon me, and sent His Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul whom I
had prayed to intercede for me, and they have most fully explained it
all!" How gladly would one know what passage of Isaias it was which
was thus Divinely interpreted!
And so this truly marvellous life went on till the end drew near. Day by
day he ascended the steps of the altar, his face bathed in tears; day by
day he returned to his work more and more illumined regarding the
_Mysterium Fidei_, and with his soul still more closely knit to its
Maker. His ecstasies became more frequent, and in one of these he was
told that the close of his life was at hand. For it was at San Severino,
not far from Salerno, that he fell into so prolonged an ecstasy that his
sister who was present appealed to Reginald to know what had happened to
her brother. Even Reginald was astonished. "He is frequently rapt in
spirit," he said, "but never before have I seen him thus abstracted!"
"Then," says William of Tocco, "Master Reginald went to him, and,
plucking him by the cloak, roused him from this deep sleep of
contemplation. But he sighed and said: 'My son Reginald, I tell thee in
secret, and I forbid thee to reveal it to anyone during my life, the
close of my writing has come; for such things have been revealed to me
that all I have written and taught seems to me of small account. Hence I
hope in my God that as there is an end to my writing, so too will
speedily come the end of my life.'"
And S. Thomas was ready for the end, for not long previously, when he
was in the convent at Naples and was praying in the Church, there
appeared to him Brother Romanus, whom he had left teaching at Paris.
Brother Thomas said to him: "Welcome! Whence dost thou come?" But
Romanus said to him: "I have passed from this life, and I am allowed to
come to thee by reason of thy merits." Then Brother Thomas, summoning up
his courage, for he had been much disturbed by the sudden apparition,
said to him: "If it be pleasing to God, I adjure you by God to answer my
questions. First: How does it stand with me? and are my works pleasing
to God?" And the other answered: "Thou art in a good state, and thy
works are pleasing to God." Then the Master continued: "And what of
thyself?" And Romanus answered: "I am in Eternal Life, but I was in
Purgatory sixteen days because of some negligence of which I was guilty
in the affair of a will which the Bishop of Paris entrusted to me for
speedy execution; but I, through mine own fault, was tardy in executing
it." Lastly S. Thomas asked: "What about that question we have so often
discussed together: Do the habits we have acquired here abide with us
when we are in our Fatherland?" But the other replied: "Brother Thomas,
I see God, and you must ask me nought further on that question." But
Thomas at once said: "Since you see God, tell me whether you see Him
with or without any intermediate image?" But Romanus replied: "_As we
have heard, so we have seen in the City of our God_," and forthwith
disappeared. But the Master remained astonished at that marvellous and
unwonted apparition, and filled with joy at his favourable replies. "O
Blessed Teacher!" ejaculates William of Tocco, who has left us this
account, "to whom Heaven's secrets were thus familiar, to whom Heaven's
citizens came with such sweet familiarity to lead him to those heavenly
Nor was this the only warning. For just as in earlier years at Paris he
had received Divine commendation for his writings, so now again at
Naples. For Brother Dominic of Caserta tells us that at Naples he
watched S. Thomas praying at night. He saw him, he says, absorbed in
prayer, and then lifted up into the air about the height of two cubits
from the ground. And whilst for a long space he marvelled at this, he
suddenly heard this voice from the Crucifix: "Thomas, well hast thou
written of Me! What reward wilt thou have from Me for all thy labour?"
But he replied: "Lord, none save Thyself!" At that time the Saint was
engaged upon the _Third Part_ of the _Summa_, and was treating of the
Passion and Resurrection of Christ. But after arriving at that point he
wrote but little more by reason of the marvels that God had wondrously
revealed to him.
Since his soul, then, was thus united to God it is small wonder the
Brethren saw him rapt in ecstasy and with his face bathed in tears as he
stood in choir and sang the _Antiphon_ wont to be sung according to the
Dominican Office for Compline during Lent: "_Ne projicias nos in tempore
senectutis: cum defecerit virtus nostra, ne derelinquas nos
In the year 1274 the Saint was summoned by Pope Gregory X. to the
Council about to be held at Lyons. He set out, taking with him his
_Treatise against the Errors of the Greek Schismatics_, for the great
question which the Pope had at heart was the settlement of the Schism
between the East and the West. But the Council was never to see Thomas,
for he fell ill when traversing the Campagna, and though he was able to
reach the Cistercian Abbey of Fossa Nuova he reached it only to die.
"_This is my rest for ever and ever_," he said as he entered the gates.
"_Here will I dwell, for I have chosen it._" And here, as he lay dying,
he expounded to the monks who stood round that most sublime of all the
Books of the Bible, the _Canticle of Canticles_: "_Behold, my Beloved
speaketh to me: Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one,
and come.... I sleep, and my heart watcheth; the voice of my Beloved Who
is knocking!... My Beloved to me and I to Him Who feedeth among the
lilies: till the Day break and the shadows retire!_"
As the time of his summons drew on he asked for the Holy Viaticum. And,
in the words of William of Tocco, "when It was brought with devout
reverence by the Abbot and the monks, he prostrated himself on the
ground, weak indeed in body but mighty in spirit, and so came to meet
his Lord with tears."
And when the priest asked him--as it is the custom to ask all Christians
at death touching their faith in this mighty Sacrament--whether he
believed that That Consecrated Host was the True Son of God, Who came
forth from the Virgin's womb, Who hung upon the tree of the Cross, Who
died for us and rose again on the third day:--with clear voice, with
full attention, and with tears, he replied: "If fuller knowledge than
that of faith could be had in this life touching this Sacrament, in that
knowledge I reply that I believe it to be true, and that I know for
certain that This is True God and Man, the Son of God the Father and of
the Virgin Mother: so I believe in my heart and so I confess in word."
After some other devout expressions he received the Sacred Host, and
then said: "I receive Thee, the Price of my soul's redemption, for love
of Whom I have studied, watched, and toiled; Thee have I preached and
taught; nought contrary to Thee have I ever said, neither do I
obstinately hold to any opinion of mine own. If, however, I have said
ought wrongly concerning this Sacrament, I submit it all to the
correction of the Holy Roman Church in Whose obedience I now pass from
this life!" "O Blessed Teacher! who ran so swiftly in the race, who
fought so manfully in the strife, who could so well say with the
Apostle: '_I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have
kept the faith; as for the rest there is laid up for me a crown of
justice_'; and such indeed had he truly won by his study of inspired
O Sancte Thoma!
A Deo nobis obtine.
Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
* * * * *
No one who is at all familiar with the writings of S. Thomas can be
surprised to find many extracts from S. Augustine in the following
pages. For Augustine and Thomas are one. Their respective styles are
different, but their thoughts and teachings are the same on the great
essential points of theological teaching. Cardinal Aguirre has well
said: "Owing to the clearness and acuteness of his angelic mind S.
Thomas sheds a flood of light on many most obscure matters, and brings
out very clearly even the most profound teachings contained in the works
of the Fathers, especially in those of S. Augustine. I speak simply from
my own experience, but I am certain that many another has felt the same:
in controverted matters, if we look merely at the text of S. Augustine,
we are brought face to face with a flood of difficulties which seem
well-nigh insoluble; but the difficulty disappears and the solution
becomes clear the moment we set to work to find out what was S. Thomas's
teaching on the question; for he is the surest and the easiest
interpreter of S. Augustine."
And indeed Augustine is a deep well! "_Man shall come to a deep heart!_"
he was fond of saying, and those words of the Psalmist might stand for a
motto at the head of his works. Traditionary art represents him with his
heart in his hand, and the sentiment is true, for "great-hearted" is the
epithet which best suits him, and those who use these pages for
meditation or spiritual reading will find that whereas S. Thomas teaches
how we ought to pray, S. Augustine makes us pray; not in vain had he
studied and taught rhetoric for so many years!
This likeness between the two great Saints forms the theme of one of the
_Responsories_ for the Office for S. Thomas in the Dominican Breviary.
It is based on a famous vision. "There appeared to me as I watched in
prayer," said Brother Albert of Brescia in his deposition, "two revered
personages clothed in wondrous splendour. One of them wore a mitre on
his head, the other was clad in the habit of the Friars Preachers. And
this latter bore on his head a golden crown; round his neck he wore two
rings, one of silver, the other of gold; and on his breast he had an
immense precious stone, which filled the church with light. His cloak,
too, was sewn with precious stones, and his tunic and his hood were of
snowy white. And the one who wore the mitre said to me: 'Brother Albert,
why art thou thus filled with wonder? Thy prayers are heard;
for--listen: I am Augustine, the Doctor of the Church, and I am sent to
thee to tell thee of the doctrine and of the glory of Brother Thomas of
Aquin who is here with me. For he is my son; he in all things has
followed my doctrine and that of the Apostles, and by his teaching he
has illumined the Church of God. This is signified by the precious
stones which you see, and especially by the one he carries on his
breast, for it signifies the upright intention which he ever had in view
in his defence of the faith and which he showed in his words. These
precious stones, then, and especially that great one, signify the many
books and works that he wrote, and they show that he is equal to me in
glory save only that in the aureola of Virginity he surpasseth me.'"
Cardinal Cajetan, from whose famous Commentary on the _Summa_ we have
occasionally quoted, is unfortunately too little known. Born in 1469,
and dying in 1534, he was the contemporary of Luther and the Reformers,
and, as was to be expected, their most formidable opponent. A great
student, a man of prayer as well as a man of action, his was the
striking figure of the early portion of the sixteenth century. But his
was a bold and independent mind, and he was not afraid to advance views
which, though now commonly accepted, brought his works into a certain
disfavour. This is especially to be regretted in the case of his
Commentaries on the Bible. A thorough Greek scholar, possessing no mean
acquaintance with Hebrew, he deserves, by reason of the clearness and
precision of his thought, the title of "Prince of Commentators." Here,
however, we are concerned with the devotional rather than with the
critical aspect of his writings, and the reader will gain from some of
Cajetan's terse and pithy comments a very great deal of instruction.
In conclusion, a few words may be desirable regarding the method of S.
S. Thomas divides his _Summa Theologica_ into three main parts. The
_First Part_ treats of _God, the Exemplar_. The _Second_, of _man
made to the image of God_; the _Third_, of _God Incarnate_, of His
_Sacraments_ by which we attain to union with Him in this life, and of
_Eternal Life_ to which we attain ultimately by our resurrection. Here
we are solely concerned with the _Second part_. It is subdivided
into two portions, known as the _Prima Secundæ_ and the _Secunda
Secundæ_ respectively, or as the _First_ and _Second_ portions of the
_Second part_. In the _Prima Secundæ_ the Saint treats of the
_principles of Morals_--namely, of man's ultimate end and of the habits,
acts, and principles by which he attains it. In the _Secunda Secundæ_,
after having laid in the _Prima Secundæ_ the foundations of Moral
Theology, he proceeds to treat of the _individual virtues_, firstly of
the Theological Virtues, Faith, Hope, and Charity; then of the Cardinal
Virtues, Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance. Under each of
these heads he treats of the _Gifts_ corresponding to each Virtue, of
the _vices_ opposed to them, and of the _Precepts_ regarding them.
Apropos of the Cardinal Virtue of Justice, he treats of the Moral Virtue
of _Religion_, which is comprised under Justice, since Religion may be
defined as the offering to God the worship which is His due, _Question_
LXXXI. He then treats of _Devotion_, _Question_ LXXXII., and then of
_Prayer_, _Question_ LXXXIII. These three _Questions_ we here present in
an English dress.
After these Treatises on individual virtues, he passes to the
consideration of those virtues which concern, not men as a whole, but
only _certain classes of men_. And first of all he treats of those
_Gifts_ which are bestowed upon certain men not so much for their own
benefit as for the good of others--viz., of Prophecy, of Ecstasy, of the
Gift of Tongues, and of the Gift of Miracles. He then discusses the two
kinds of _operations_ or "lives"--the _active_, namely, and the
_contemplative_--which find a place in the Mystical Body of Christ,
which is the Church. These treatises in reality constitute a commentary
on 1 Cor. xii. 4-11. _Question_ CLXXIX., _On the Division of Life into
the Active and the Contemplative_, is here given; as also _Question_
CLXXX., _On the Contemplative Life_; _Question_ CLXXXI., _On the Active
Life_; _Question_ CLXXXII., _On the Comparison of the Active with the
S. Thomas then proceeds to treat of _various states of life_--viz., of
the state of perfection, of the Episcopal and of the Religious state.
Only one question raised in this connection concerns us here: _Whether_,
namely, _Contemplative Religious Orders are superior to Active Orders?_
(_Question_ CLXXXVIII. 6).
Each _Question_ is, as will be seen from the _Table of Contents_,
divided into _Articles_.
The framework of what is termed an "article" of the _Summa_ is familiar
to those who use that work, but it may not be amiss to explain S.
Thomas's method in brief fashion. Each "article" is couched in the form
of a question, thus: _Has contemplation its joys?_ And the Saint at once
sets forth in succession three, sometimes more, arguments which seem to
militate against the view he himself holds. These are commonly known as
the _objections_. He then gives us a short paragraph opening with the
words: _Sed contra_, or _But on the contrary_; and in this paragraph he
gives some authority, generally that of Holy Scripture or one of the
Fathers, for the view he is going to hold. This paragraph is generally
known from its opening words as the _Sed contra_; there is no argument
in it save from authority. He then proceeds to discuss the question from
the standpoint of pure reason. This portion is known as the _Corpus
articuli_, or _Body of the Article_, and in it the Saint presents his
reasoning in clear, precise fashion. It will be apparent, of course,
that many questions cannot be answered with a categoric _yes_ or _no_,
but the precise sense in which certain terms in the discussion are to be
used has to be clearly ascertained; according to the diverse ways in
which they may be understood the answer will be affirmative or negative.
It is important for those not familiar with S. Thomas' works to grasp
this point; they must not, for instance, presume that because the
opening "objections" seem to uphold one point of view S. Thomas is
therefore going to hold the precise opposite. A good example of this
will be found in the Article: _Ought we to pray to God alone?_
In the Treatises here presented the argument, though clear and precise,
is hardly what we should call subtle, and this for the simple reason
that the subject-matter does not call for subtle treatment. But what
cannot fail to strike the most cursory reader is the tone of submission
to authority and to the teachings of the Fathers which characterizes
every page: "_Summe veneratus est sacros Doctores_," says Cajetan,
"_ideo intellectum omnium quodammodo sortitus est_." And the natural
corollary of this is the complete self-effacement of the Saint. The
first person is conspicuous by its absence all through the _Summa_,
though the reader of the following pages will find one exception to this
And the more we study these Articles of S. Thomas the more we marvel;
the thought is so concentrated and yet so limpid in its expression, that
as we read it it seems as though no one could ever have thought
otherwise. But read it, and then try to reformulate the line of argument
which you have been following with such ease--and your mind halts, your
tongue stammers! It is one thing to understand the thought when
expressed, quite another to think such thoughts and express them. Hence
the declaration made by Pope John XXII. when the question of the holy
Doctor's canonization was brought forward: "Such teaching," he
exclaimed, "could only have been due to miracle!" And on the following
day in the Consistory: "He has brought greater light to the Church than
all other Doctors; by one year's study of his writings a man may make
greater profit than if he spend his whole life studying the writings of
The reader will sometimes feel inclined to smile at the quaint
etymologies which occur now and again. But he must remember that these
are given by the Saint for what they are worth. It was not a
philological age, and S. Thomas made use of the _Book of Etymologies_
drawn up in the seventh century by S. Isidore of Seville.
Besides the writings of S. Augustine, two Patristic works are cited with
considerable frequency by S. Thomas in these pages: the _Opus
Imperfectum_ of S. Chrysostom on S. Matthew's Gospel, and the works of
Denis the Areopagite. The former is almost certainly not the work of S.
Chrysostom, but rather of an Arian writer towards the close of the sixth
century. The writer known as Denis the Areopagite, owing to his
being traditionally identified with S. Paul's convert at Athens,
probably wrote about the close of the fifth century. Few works of
Mystical Theology exercised a greater influence on the writers of the
Middle Ages. A word must also be said about the _Gloss_ to which S.
Thomas so often refers, and which he quotes as an authority. The term
"Gloss" was applied to the brief running commentaries on the Bible which
were in vogue in the Middle Ages. These brief paraphrases were also
known as _Postillæ_, and they were frequently written in between the
lines of the text of the Bible, whence the name _Interlinear Gloss_; or
in the margins, whence the name _Marginal Gloss_. The _Glossa
Ordinaria_, as it is called, is the best known of these commentaries. It
is usually attributed to Walafrid Strabo, a monk of the Abbey of S.
Gall, who died in 849; but it is probable that Strabo took down his
Commentary from the lips of Rabanus Maurus, a monk of the Abbey of
Fulda, and afterwards its abbot. Rabanus was a most prolific writer, and
has left Commentaries on nearly all the Books of the Bible. Even when
Abbot he reserved to himself the Chair of Scripture; he had had the
great advantage of living for a time in Palestine. Another Biblical
scholar to whom the _Glossa Ordinaria_ of S. Thomas's time apparently
owed much, was Hugo à S. Caro, the Dominican Provincial in France, and
afterwards Cardinal-Priest of S. Sabina. It was under his direction that
the first Concordance of the Bible was formed, in which task he is said
to have had the assistance of five hundred Friars. He owes his title
of Glossator to his well-known _Postillæ_, or Brief Commentaries on the
whole Bible. The _Glossa Interlinearis_ is due to Anselm, a Canon of
Laudun, who died in 1117. Another famous Glossator was Nicolas de Lyra,
a Franciscan who died in 1340--some sixty-six years, that is, subsequent
to S. Thomas. Lastly, we should mention Peter the Lombard, commonly
known as _The Master of the Sentences_, from his four books of
_Sentences_, in which he presented the theological teaching of the
Fathers in Scholastic fashion. This treatise became the Scholastic
manual of the age. To him is due a Gloss on the Psalter and on Job, as
well as a series of brief notes on the Epistles of S. Paul taken from
the writings of the chief Fathers, S. Ambrose, S. Jerome, S. Augustine,
etc. And the authority accorded to these Glosses in general is due to
the fact that they constituted a running Commentary taken from the
writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church.
THE BREVIARY HYMN TO S. AUGUSTINE.
Magne Pater Augustine
Preces nostras suscipe,
Et per eas Conditori
Nos placare satage,
Atque rege gregem tuum
Summum decus præsulum.
Te collaudant pauperes:
Amant veri judices:
Frangis nobis favos mellis,
De Scripturis disserens.
Quæ obscura prius erant
Nobis plana faciens,
Tu de verbis Salvatoris
Dulcem panem conficis,
Et propinas potum vitæ
De Psalmorum nectare.
Tu de vita clericorum
Sanctam scribis Regulam,
Quam qui amant et sequuntur
Viam tenent regiam,
Atque tuo sancto ductu
Redeunt ad Patriam.
Regi regum salus, vita,
Decus et imperium:
Trinitati laus et honor
Sit per omne sæculum:
Qui concives nos adscribat
Supernorum civium. Amen.
 _The Ascent of Mount Carmel by S. John of the Cross._ Prefatory
Essay on the Development of Mysticism in the Carmelite Order, by
Benedict Zimmerman, O.C.D., pp. 13-17. (London: Thomas Baker, 1906.)
 Valgornera, O.P., _Mystica Theologia D. Thomæ_, ed. Berthier. 2
Vols. Turin, 1890-91.
 "In ætate tam tenera et scibilium nescia, qui necdum se scire
poterat, miro modo Deum adhuc nesciens, divino ductus instinctu scire
quærebat. De quo futurum erat, ut, dum sic anxius maturius Deum præ
aliis quæreret, clarius præ ceteris, quæ scire futurus erat, scriberet,
quæ de Deo, ipso donante, studiosius et citius inveniret" (William of
Tocco, _Vita B. Thomæ_ in the _Bollandists_, March 7, No. 5). This
William of Tocco had seen and heard S. Thomas, and in 1319 took a
prominent part in the Saint's canonization (see _Bollandists_, p. 653).
 Bernard Guidonis, _Boll._, No. 7, p. 659, note.
 _Boll._, Nos. 12 and 76.
 _Ibid._, No. 11.
 _Boll._, p. 661.
 _Ibid._, p. 662.
 _Boll._, p. 668.
 _Boll._, pp. 668 and 710.
 _Boll._, No. 53.
 _Ibid._, p. 671.
 _Boll._, p. 668.
 _Boll._, p. 672.
 Ps. xlvii.
 _Boll._, p. 672.
 _Boll._, p. 669.
 _Ibid._, p. 667; _cp._ Ps. lxx, 20.
 _Boll._, p. 675.
 Touron, _Vie de S. Thomas d'Aquin_, Paris, 1740, p. 353.
 _Boll._, p. 706; _cp._ p. 665.
 _Prol._ to Ia., IIdæ.
 _Prol._ to III. _Pars._
 _Prol._ to IIa., IIdæ.
 _Prol._ to IIa. IIdæ.
 _Prol._ to _Qu._ CLXXI. of the IIda., IIdæ.
 _Comment._ on IIa., IIæ., cxlviii. 4.
 _Boll._, p. 680.
 See Bardenhewer, _Patrologie_, i. 319.
 Smith and Wace, _Dict. of Christian Biography_, i. 847.
 Fabricius, _Bibliotheca Latina_, _s.v._ Walafridus and Rabanus.
 _Ibid._, _s.v._ Hugo à S. Caro.
OF THE VIRTUE OF RELIGION
I. Does the Virtue of Religion Direct a Man To God Alone?
S. Augustine, _sermon_, cccxxxiv. 3
" _on Psalm_ lxxvi. 32
_sermon_, cccxi. 14-15
II. Is Religion a Virtue?
III. Is Religion One Virtue?
IV. Is Religion a Special Virtue Distinct From Others?
V. Is Religion One of the Theological Virtues?
VI. Is Religion To Be Preferred To the Other Moral Virtues?
VII. Has Religion, Or Latria, Any External Acts?
S. Augustine, _of Care for the Dead_, V.
VIII. Is Religion the Same As Sanctity?
Cardinal Cajetan, on the Distinction Between
Sanctity and Religion
Does the Virtue of Religion direct a Man to God Alone?
Cicero says: "Religion offers internal and external reverence to
that Superior Nature which we term the Divine."
S. Isidore says: "A religious man is, as Cicero remarks, so called
from _religion_, for he is occupied with and, as it were, reads through
again and again (_relegit_) the things that concern Divine worship."
Thus religion seems to be so called from reading again (_religendo_)
things concerning Divine worship; for such things are to be repeatedly
revolved in the mind, according to those words of Proverbs iii. 6: _In
all thy ways think on Him._ At the same time _religion_ might be said to
be so called because "we ought to choose again (_re-eligere_) those
things which through our negligence we have lost," as S. Augustine has
noted. Or perhaps it is better derived from "binding again"
(_religando_); thus S. Augustine says: "Let religion bind us once
more to the One Almighty God."
But whether religion be so called from frequent _reading_, or from
_fresh election_ of Him Whom we have negligently lost, or from
_rebinding_, it properly implies a certain relation to God. For it is He
to Whom we ought to be especially _bound_ as our indefectible principle;
to Him must we assiduously direct our _choice_ as our ultimate end; He
it is Whom we negligently lose by sin and Whom we must regain by
believing in Him and by professing our faith in Him.
But some deny that religion directs a man to God alone, thus:
1. S. James says: _Religion clean and undefiled before God and the
Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation;
and to keep oneself unspotted from this world._ But _to visit the
fatherless and widows_ indicates relation to our neighbour, and _to keep
oneself unspotted from this world_ refers to ourselves. Hence religion
is not confined to our relationship with God.
But religion has two sorts of acts. Some belong to it properly
and immediately, those acts, namely, which it elicits and by
which man is directed to God alone, as, for instance, to offer
Him sacrifice, to adore Him, etc.
But there are other acts which religion produces through the
medium of the virtues which it controls, directing them, that
is, towards reverence to God; for that virtue which is concerned
with the end directs those virtues which have to do with the
means to the end. And in this sense _to visit the fatherless and
widows in their tribulation_ is said to be an act of religion
because commanded by it, though actually elicited by the virtue
of mercy. Similarly _to keep oneself unspotted from this world_
is an act commanded by religion, though elicited by temperance
or some other virtue.
2. S. Augustine says: "Since according to the genius of the Latin
speech--and that not merely of the unlearned, but even of the most
learned--religion is said to be shown towards our human relatives and
connexions and intimates, this word 'religion' cannot be used without
some ambiguity when applied to the worship of God; hence we cannot say
with absolute confidence that religion is nought else but the worship of
God." Religion, then, is not limited to our relation to God, but
embraces, our neighbour as well.
But it is only by an extension of the name "religion" that it is
made to embrace our relations towards our human kin, it is not
according to the proper signification of the word. Hence S.
Augustine prefaced the words quoted from him above with the
remark: "Religion, strictly speaking, seems to mean, not any
kind of worship, but only that of God."
3. Further, _latria_ seems to come under religion. But S. Augustine
says: "_Latria_ is interpreted as service." But we ought to serve
not God only, but our neighbour as well: _By charity of the spirit serve
one another._ Religion, then, implies relation to our neighbour.
But since a slave implies a master, it follows that where there
exists a peculiar and special title of dominion there also will
be found a peculiar and special ratio of servitude. It is clear,
however, that dominion belongs to God in a peculiar and special
fashion, since He it is Who has made all things and Who holds
the chief rule over all things. Consequently a special kind of
service is due to Him. And this service is by the Greeks
designated _latria_, which is, in consequence, properly
comprised under "religion."
4. Again, reverence comes under religion. But man has to reverence, not
only God, but his neighbour as well; as Cato says: "Reverence parents."
Hence religion establishes a relation between ourselves and our
neighbour as well as between ourselves and God.
But we are said to reverence those men whom we honour or
remember, or to whose presence we resort. So, too, even things
which are subject to us are said to be "cultivated" by us
(_coli_); thus husbandmen (_agricolæ_) are so called because
they "cultivate" the fields; the inhabitants of a place, too
(_incolæ_), are so called because they "cultivate" the spots
where they dwell. But since special honour is due to God as the
First Principle of all, a special kind of "cultus" or
"reverence" is His due, and this the Greeks call _eusebia_ or
_theosebia_, as S. Augustine says.
5. Lastly, all who are in a state of salvation are subject to God. But
not all who are in a state of salvation are called "religious," but
those only who bind themselves by certain vows and observances and who
undertake to obey certain men. Hence religion does not seem to mean the
relationship of subjection of man to God.
But although, generally speaking, all those who worship God can
be termed "religious," yet those are specially so called who
dedicate their whole lives to the Divine worship and cut
themselves off from worldly occupations.
Thus those are not termed "contemplatives" who merely
contemplate, but they who devote their lives to contemplation.
And such men do not subject themselves to men for man's sake,
but for God's, as the Apostle says: _You received me as an Angel
of God, even as Christ Jesus._
* * * * *
_S. Augustine_: We are to abide in Christ! How then shall That not be
now our possession Where we are then to abide and Whence we are to draw
Life? Let Holy Scripture speak for us lest we should seem in mere
conjecture to be saying things contrary to the teaching of the Word of
God. Hear the words of one who knew: _If God be for us who is against
us?_ _The Lord_, he says, _is the portion of my inheritance._ He
saith not: Lord, what wilt Thou give me for mine inheritance? All that
Thou canst give me is worthless! Be Thou mine inheritance! Thee do I
love! Thee do I wholly love! With all my heart, with all my soul, with
all my mind do I love Thee! What, then, shall be my lot? What wilt Thou
give me save Thyself? This is to love God freely. This is to hope for
God from God. This is to hasten to be filled with God, to be sated with
Him. For He is sufficient for thee; apart from Him nought can suffice
thee! (_Sermon_, cccxxxiv. 3).
_S. Augustine_: I cried to the Lord with my voice. Many cry to the
Lord that they may win riches, that they may avoid losses; they cry that
their family may be established, they ask for temporal happiness, for
worldly dignities; and, lastly, they cry for bodily health, which is the
patrimony of the poor. For these and suchlike things many cry to the
Lord; hardly one cries for the Lord Himself! How easy it is for a man to
desire all manner of things from the Lord and yet not desire the Lord
Himself! As though the gift could be sweeter than the Giver! (_on Ps._
_S. Augustine:_ Picture God as saying to you--He Who re-created you and
adopted you: "My son, why is it that day by day you rise and pray, and
genuflect, and even strike the ground with your forehead, nay, sometimes
even shed tears, while you say to Me: 'My Father, my God! give me
wealth!' If I were to give it to you, you would think yourself of some
importance, you would fancy you had gained something very great. Yet
because you asked for it you have it. But take care to make good use of
it. Before you had it you were humble; now that you have begun to be
rich you despise the poor! What kind of a good is that which only makes
you worse? For worse you are, since you were bad already. And that it
would make you worse you knew not, hence you asked it of Me. I gave it
to you and I proved you; you have found--and you are found out! You were
hidden when you had nothing. Correct thyself! Vomit up this cupidity!
Take a draught of charity!... Ask of Me better things than these,
greater things than these. Ask of Me spiritual things. Ask of Me
Myself!" (_Sermon_, cccxi. 14-15).
Is Religion a Virtue?
A virtue is that which both renders its possessor, as also his work,
good. Hence we must say that every good act comes under virtue. And it
is clear that to render to another what is his due has the character of
a good act; for by the fact that a man renders to another his due there
is established a certain fitting proportion and order between them. But
order comes under the ratio of good, just as do measure and species, as
S. Augustine establishes. Since, then, it belongs to religion to
render to some one, namely, God, the honour which is His due, it is
clear that religion is a virtue.
Some, however, deny this, thus:
1. It belongs to religion to show reverence to God. But reverence is an
act of fear, and fear is a gift. Religion, then, is a gift, not a
To reverence God is indeed an act of the gift of fear. But to
religion it belongs to do certain things by reason of our
reverence for God. Hence it does not follow that religion is the
same thing as the gift of fear, but it is related to it as to a
higher principle. For the gifts are superior to the moral
2. All virtue consists in the free-will, and hence virtue is called an
elective or voluntary habit. But _latria_ belongs to religion, and
_latria_ implies a certain servitude. Hence religion is not a virtue.
But even a servant can freely give to his master the service
that is his due and thus "make a virtue of necessity" by
voluntarily paying his debt. And similarly the payment of due
service to God can be an act of virtue according as a man does
3. Lastly, as is said in Aristotle's _Ethics_, the aptitude for the
virtues is implanted in us by nature; hence those things which come
under the virtues arise from the dictates of natural reason; but it
belongs to religion to offer external reverence to the Divine Nature.
Ceremonial, however, or external reverence, is not due to the dictates
of natural reason. Hence religion is not a virtue.
But it is due to the dictates of natural reason that a man does
certain things in order to show reverence to God. That he should
do precisely this or that, however, does not come from the
dictates of natural reason, but from Divine or human positive
Is Religion One Virtue?
S. Paul says to the Ephesians: _One God, one faith._ But true
religion maintains faith in one God. Consequently religion is one
Habits are distinguished according to the divers objects with which they
are concerned. But it belongs to religion to show reverence for the One
God for one particular reason, inasmuch, namely, as He is the First
Principle, the Creator and Governor of all things; hence we read in
Malachi: _If I am a Father, where is my honour?_ for it is the
father that produces and governs. Hence it is clear that religion is but
But some maintain that religion is not one virtue, thus:
1. By religion we are ordained to God. But in God there are Three
Persons, and, moreover, divers attributes which are at least
distinguishable from one another by reason. But the diverse character of
the objects on which they fall suffices to differentiate the virtues.
Hence religion is not one virtue.
But the Three Divine Persons are but One Principle as concerns
the creation and the government of things. And consequently They
are to be served by one religion. And the divers attributes all
concur in the First Principle, for God produces all and governs
all by His Wisdom, His Will, and the power of His Goodness.
Hence religion is but one virtue.
2. One virtue can have but one act; for habits are differentiated
according to their acts. But religion has many acts, _e.g._, to worship,
to serve, to make vows, to pray, to make sacrifices, and many other
similar things. Consequently religion is not one virtue.
But by one and the same act does man serve God and worship Him;
for worship is referred to God's excellence, to which is due
reverence: service regards man's subjection, for by reason of
his condition he is bound to show reverence to God. And under
these two heads are comprised all the acts which are attributed
to religion; for by them all man makes protestation of the
Divine excellence and of his subjection of himself to God,
either by offering Him something, or, again, by taking upon
himself something Divine.
3. Further, adoration belongs to religion. But adoration is paid to
images for one reason and to God for another. But since diversity of
"reason" serves to differentiate the virtues, it seems that religion is
not one virtue.
But religious worship is not paid to images considered in
themselves as entities, but precisely as images bringing God
Incarnate to our mind. Further, regarding an image precisely as
an image of some one, we do not stop at it; it carries us on to
that which it represents. Hence the fact that religious
veneration is paid to images of Christ in no sense means that
there are various kinds of _latria_, nor different virtues of
Is Religion a Special Virtue Distinct From Others?
Religion is regarded as a part of Justice, and is distinct from the
other parts of Justice.
Since virtue is ordained to what is good, where there exists some
special ratio of good there must be some special corresponding virtue.
But the particular good towards which religion is ordained is the
showing due honour to God. Honour, however, is due by reason of some
excellency. And to God belongs pre-eminent excellence, since He in every
possible way infinitely transcends all things. Hence special honour is
due to Him; just as we note that in human concerns varying honours are
due to the varying excellencies of persons; one is the honour of a
father, another that of a king, and so on. Hence it is manifest that
religion is a special virtue.
Some, however, maintain that religion is not a special virtue distinct
from others, thus:
1. S. Augustine says: "True sacrifice is every work undertaken in
order that we may be joined to God in holy fellowship." But sacrifice
comes under religion. Every work of virtue therefore comes under
religion. And consequently it is not a special virtue.
But every work of virtue is said to be a sacrifice in so far as
it is directed to showing God reverence. It does not thence
follow that religion is a general virtue, but that it commands
all the other virtues.
2. The Apostle says to the Corinthians: _Do all to the glory of
God._ But it belongs to religion to do some things for the glory of God.
Hence religion is not a special virtue.
But all kinds of acts, in so far as they are done for the glory
of God, come under religion; not, however, as though it elicited
them, but inasmuch as it controls them. Those acts, however,
come under religion as eliciting them which, by their own
specific character, pertain to the service of God.
3. Lastly, the charity whereby we love God is not distinct from the
charity by which we love our neighbour. But in the _Ethics_ it is
said: "To be honoured is akin to being loved." Hence religion by which
God is honoured is not a specifically distinct virtue from those
observances, whether _dulia_ or piety, whereby we honour our neighbour.
Hence it is not a special virtue.
But the object of love is a _good_ thing; whereas the object of
honour or reverence is what is _excellent_. But it is God's
Goodness that is communicated to His creatures, not the
excellence of His Goodness. Hence while the charity wherewith we
love God is not a distinct virtue from the charity wherewith we
love our neighbour, yet the religion whereby we honour God is
distinct from the virtues whereby we honour our neighbour.
Is Religion One of the Theological Virtues?
Religion is considered a part of Justice, and this is a moral virtue.
Religion is the virtue whereby we offer to God His due honour. Two
things have therefore to be considered in religion. First we have to
consider what religion offers God, namely, worship: this may be regarded
as the material and the object with which religion is concerned.
Secondly, we have to consider Him to Whom it is offered, namely, God
Himself. Now, when worship is offered to God it is not as though our
worshipful acts touched God, though this is the case when we believe
God, for by believing in God we touch Him (and we have therefore said
elsewhere that God is the object of our faith not simply inasmuch as
we believe in God, but inasmuch as we believe God). Due worship,
however, is offered to God in that certain acts whereby we worship Him
are performed as homage to Him, the offering sacrifice, for instance,
and so forth. From all which it is evident that God does not stand to
the virtue of religion as its object or as the material with which it is
concerned, but as its goal. And consequently religion is not a
theological virtue, for the object of these latter is the ultimate end;
but religion is a moral virtue, and the moral virtues are concerned with
the means to the end.
But some regard religion as a theological virtue, thus:
1. S. Augustine says: "God is worshipped by faith, hope, and
charity," and these are theological virtues. But to offer worship to God
comes under religion. Therefore religion is a theological virtue.
But it is always the case that a faculty or a virtue whose
object is a certain end, controls--by commanding--those
faculties or virtues which have to do with those things which
are means to that end. But the theological virtues--_i.e._,
faith, hope, and charity--are directly concerned with God as
their proper object. And hence they are the cause--by commanding
it--of the act of the virtue of religion which does certain
things having relation to God. It is in this sense that S.
Augustine says that "God is worshipped by faith, hope, and
2. Those are called theological virtues which have God for their object.
But religion has God for its object, for it directs us to God alone.
Therefore it is a theological virtue.
But religion directs man to God, not indeed as towards its
object, but as towards its goal.
3. Lastly, every virtue is either theological or intellectual or moral.
But religion is not an intellectual virtue, for its perfection does not
consist in the consideration of the truth. Neither is it a moral virtue,
for the property of the moral virtues is to steer a middle course
betwixt what is superfluous and what is below the requisite; whereas no
one can worship God to excess, according to the words of
Ecclesiasticus: _For He is above all praise._ Religion, then, can
only be a theological virtue.
But religion is neither an intellectual nor a theological
virtue, but a moral virtue, for it is part of justice. And the
_via media_ in religion lies, not between the passions, but in a
certain harmony which it establishes in the acts which are
directed towards God. I say "a certain," not an absolute
harmony, for we can never show to God all the worship that is
His due; I mean, then, the harmony arising from the
consideration of our human powers and of the Divine acceptance
of what we offer. Moreover, there can be excess in those things
which have to do with the Divine worship; not indeed as regards
quantity, but in certain other circumstances, as, for example,
when Divine worship is offered to whom it should not, or at
times when it should not, or in other unfitting circumstances.
Is Religion to be preferred to the Other Moral Virtues?
In Exodus the commandments which concern religion are put first, as
though they were of primary importance. But the order of the
commandments is proportioned to the order of the virtues; for the
commandments of the Law fall upon the acts of the virtues. Hence
religion is chief among the moral virtues.
The means to an end derive their goodness from their relation to that
end; hence the more nigh they are to the end the better they are. But
the moral virtues are concerned with those things which are ordained to
God as their goal. And religion approaches more nearly to God than do
the other moral virtues, inasmuch as it is occupied with those things
which are directly and immediately ordained to the Divine honour. Hence
religion is the chief of the moral virtues.
Some, however, deny that religion is pre-eminent among the moral
1. The perfection of a moral virtue lies in this, that it keeps the due
medium. But religion fails to attain the medium of justice, for it
does not render to God anything absolutely equal to Him. Hence religion
is not better than the other moral virtues.
But the praiseworthiness of a virtue lies in the will, not in
the power. Hence to fall short of equality--which is the midpath
of justice--for lack of power, does not make virtue less
praiseworthy, provided the deficiency is not due to the will.
2. Again, in our service of men a thing seems to be praiseworthy in
proportion to the need of him whom we assist; hence it is said in
Isaias: _Deal thy bread to the hungry._ But God needs nothing that
we can offer Him, according to the Psalmist: _I have said: Thou art my
God, for Thou hast no need of my goods._ Hence religion seems to be
less praiseworthy than the other virtues, for by them man is succoured.
But in the service we render to another for his profit, that is
the more praiseworthy which is rendered to the most needy,
because it is of greater profit to him. But no service is
rendered to God for His profit--for His glory, indeed, but for
3. Lastly, the greater the necessity for doing a thing the less worthy
it is of praise, according to the words: _For if I preach the Gospel, it
is no glory to me, for a necessity lieth upon me._ But the greater
the debt the greater the necessity. Since, then, the service which man
offers to God is the greatest of debts, it would appear that religion is
the least praiseworthy of all human virtues.
Where necessity comes in the glory of supererogation is
non-existent; but the merit of the virtue is not thereby
excluded, provided the will be present. Consequently the
argument does not follow.
Has Religion, That is _Latria_, any External Acts?
In Ps. lxxxiii. 3 it is said: _My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in
the living God._ Now interior acts belong to the heart, and in the same
way exterior acts are referred to the members of the body. It appears,
then, that God is to be worshipped by exterior as well as by interior
We do not show reverence and honour to God for His own sake--for He in
Himself is filled with glory to which nought can be added by any created
thing--but for our own sakes. For by the fact that we reverence and
honour God our minds are subjected to Him, and in that their perfection
lies; for all things are perfected according as they are subjected to
that which is superior to them--the body, for instance, when vivified by
the soul, the air when illumined by the sun. Now the human mind
needs--if it would be united to God--the guidance of the things of
sense; for, as the Apostle says to the Romans: _The invisible things
of Him are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made_.
Hence in the Divine worship it is necessary to make use of certain
corporal acts, so that by their means, as by certain signs, man's mind
may be stirred up to those spiritual acts whereby it is knit to God.
Consequently religion has certain interior acts which are its chief ones
and which essentially belong to it; but it has also external acts which
are secondary and which are subordinated to the interior acts.
* * * * *
Some deny, however, that exterior acts belong to religion or _latria_,
1. In S. John iv. 24 we read: _For God is a Spirit, and they that adore
Him must adore Him in spirit and in truth._ External acts belong,
however, rather to the body than to the spirit. Consequently religion,
which comprises adoration, has no exterior acts, but only interior.
But here the Lord speaks only of that which is chiefest and
which is essentially intended in Divine worship.
2. The end of religion is to show reverence and honour to God. But it is
not reverent to offer to a superexcellent person what properly belongs
to inferiors. Since, then, what a man offers by bodily acts seems more
in accordance with men's needs and with that respect which we owe to
inferior created beings, it does not appear that it can fittingly be
made use of in order to show reverence to God.
But such external acts are not offered to God as though He
needed them, as He says in the Psalm: _Shall I eat the flesh of
bullocks? Or shall I drink the blood of goats?_ But such
acts are offered to God as signs of those interior and spiritual
works which God accepts for their own sakes. Hence S. Augustine
says: "The visible sacrifice is the sacrament--that is, the
visible sign--of the invisible sacrifice."
3. Lastly, S. Augustine praises Seneca for his condemnation of those
men who offered to their idols what they were wont to offer to men: on
the ground, namely, that what belongs to mortal men is not fittingly
offered to the immortals. Still less, then, can such things be fittingly
offered to the True God Who is _above all gods_. Therefore to
worship God by means of bodily acts seems to be reprehensible. And
consequently religion does not include bodily acts.
But idolaters are so called because they offer to their idols
things belonging to men, and this not as outward signs which may
excite in them spiritual affections, but as being acceptable by
those idols for their own sake. And especially because they
offered them empty and vile things.
* * * * *
_S. Augustine:_ When men pray, they, as becomes suppliants, make use of
their bodily members, for they bend the knee, they stretch forth their
hands, they even prostrate on the ground and perform other visible acts.
Yet all the while their invisible will and their heart's intention are
known to God. He needs not these signs for the human soul to be laid
bare before Him. But man by so doing stirs himself up to pray and groan
with greater humility and fervour. I know not how it is that whereas
such bodily movements can only be produced by reason of some preceding
act on the part of the soul, yet when they are thus visibly performed
the interior invisible movement which gave them birth is thereby itself
increased, and the heart's affections--which must have preceded, else
such acts would not have been performed--are thereby themselves
Yet none the less, if a man be in some sort hindered so that he is not
at liberty to make use of such external acts, the interior man does not
therefore cease to pray; in the secret chamber of his heart, where lies
compunction, he lies prostrate before the eyes of God (_Of Care for the
Is Religion the Same as Sanctity?
In S. Luke's Gospel we read: _Let us serve Him in holiness and
justice._ But to serve God comes under religion. Hence religion is the
same as sanctity.
The word "sanctity" seems to imply two things. First, it seems to imply
_cleanness_; and this is in accordance with the Greek word for it, for
in Greek it is _hagios_, as though meaning "without earth."
Secondly, it implies _stability_, and thus among the ancients those
things were termed _sancta_ which were so hedged about with laws that
they were safe from violation; similarly a thing is said to be
_sancitum_ because established by law. And even according to the Latins
the word _sanctus_ may mean "cleanness," as derived from _sanguine
tinctus_, for of old those who were to be purified were sprinkled with
the blood of a victim, as says S. Isidore in his _Etymologies_.
And both meanings allow us to attribute sanctity to things which are
used in the Divine worship; so that not men only, but also temples and
vessels and other similar things are said to be sanctified by reason of
their use in Divine worship. _Cleanness_ indeed is necessary if a man's
mind is to be applied to God. For the mind of man is stained by being
immersed in inferior things, as indeed all things are cheapened by
admixture with things inferior to them--silver, for instance, when mixed
with lead. And for our minds to be knit to the Supreme Being they must
needs be withdrawn from inferior things. Without cleanness, then, the
mind cannot be applied to God. Hence in the Epistle to the Hebrews
it is said: _Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no
man shall see God._
_Stability_ is also required if the mind is to be applied to God. For
the mind is applied to Him as to the Ultimate End and First Principle,
and consequently must be immovable. Hence the Apostle says: _For I am
sure that neither death nor life shall separate me from the love of
Sanctity, then, is said to be that whereby man's mind and its acts are
applied to God. Hence sanctity does not differ from religion
essentially, but in idea only. For by religion we mean that a man offers
God due service in those things which specially pertain to the Divine
worship--sacrifices, for example, and oblations, etc.; but by sanctity
we mean that a man not only offers these things, but also refers to God
the works of the other virtues, and also that a man disposes himself by
good works for the Divine worship.
* * * * *
Some, however, deny the identity of religion and sanctity, thus:
1. Religion is a certain special virtue. But sanctity is called a
general virtue, for according to Andronicus, sanctity is that which
"makes men faithful observers of what is justly due to God." Hence
sanctity is not the same as religion.
But sanctity is in its essence a special virtue, and as such is,
in a sort, the same as religion. It has, however, a certain
general aspect in that, by its commands, it directs all the acts
of the virtues to the Divine Good. In the same way legal justice
is termed a general virtue in that it directs the acts of all
the virtues to the common good.
2. Sanctity seems to imply cleanness, for S. Denis says: "Sanctity
is freedom from all impurity; it is perfect and stainless cleanness."
Cleanness, however, seems to come under temperance, for this it is which
precludes bodily defilement. Since, then, religion comes under justice,
sanctity cannot be identified with religion.
Temperance indeed worketh cleanness, but this has not the ratio
of sanctity except it be referred to God. Hence S. Augustine
says of virginity itself that "not because it is virginity is it
held in honour, but because it is consecrated to God."
3. Lastly, things that are contradistinguished are not identical. But in
all enumerations of the parts of justice sanctity is set against
But sanctity is set against religion because of the difference
aforesaid; they differ indeed in idea, not in substance.
* * * * *
_Cajetan:_ Religion is directly concerned with those things which
specially pertain to the Divine worship--ceremonies, for example,
sacrifices, oblations, etc. Whereas sanctity directly regards the mind,
and through the mind the other virtuous works, including those of
religion ... for it makes use of them so as thereby to apply the
mind--and by consequence all acts that proceed from the human mind--to
God. Thus we see that many religious people are not saints, whereas all
saints are religious. For people who devote themselves to ceremonies,
sacrifices, etc., can be termed religious; but they can only be called
saints in so far as by means of these things they give themselves
interiorly to God (_on_ 2. 2. 81. 8).
 _De invent. Rhetor._, ii. 53.
 _Etymolog._, x. _sub litt._ R.
 _Of the City of God_, x. 3.
 _Of the True Religion_, lv.
 St. Jas. i. 27.
 _Of the City of God_, x. 1.
 _Of the City of God_, x. 1.
 Gal. v. 13.
 The objection and its solution turn upon the Latin words _cultus_
and _colere_, which cannot be consistently rendered in English;
"reverence" is perhaps the most appropriate translation here.
 _Of the City of God_, x. 1.
 Gal. iv. 14.
 Rom. viii. 31.
 Ps. xv. 5.
 Ps. lxxvi. 1.
 _Of the Nature of Good_, iii.
 _Fear_ is one of the "Gifts" of the Holy Ghost.
 S. Jerome, _Ep._ LIV., _alias_ X., _ad Furiam_.
 II., vi. 15.
 iv. 5-6.
 i. 6.
 The Latin word _ordinare_ means "to set in due order"; there is no
precise English equivalent which can be consistently employed.
 _Of the City of God_, x. 6.
 II. x. 31.
 VIII. viii. 1.
 2. 2. Qu. II., Art. 2.
 _Enchiridion_, iii.
 xliii. 33.
 xx. 1-17.
 _Ethics_, II. vi.
 lviii. 7.
 Ps. xv. 2.
 1 Cor. ix. 16.
 See p. 30.
 i. 20.
 Ps. xlix. 13.
 _Of the City of God_, x. 5.
 _Ibid._, vi. 10.
 Ps. xciv. 3.
 i. 74-75.
 Thus Origen, _Hom._ XI, i. _in Leviticum_, where, however, he is
not really giving an etymology.
 X., _sub litt._ S.
 xii. 14.
 Rom. viii. 38-39.
 _De Affectibus_.
 _Of the Divine Names_, xii.
 _Of Virginity_, viii.
I. Is Devotion a Special Kind of Act?
Cardinal Cajetan, On the Meaning of the Term "Devotion"
S. Augustine, _Confessions_, XIII. viii. 2
II. Is Devotion an Act of the Virtue of Religion?
III. Is Contemplation, that is Meditation, the Cause of Devotion?
Cardinal Cajetan, On the Causes of Devotion
" " On the Devotion of Women
IV. Is Joy an Effect of Devotion?
Cardinal Cajetan, On Melancholy
S. Augustine, _Confessions_, II. x.
Is Devotion a Special Kind of Act?
It is by our acts that we merit. But devotion has a peculiarly
meritorious character. Consequently devotion is a special kind of act.
Devotion is so termed from "devoting" oneself. Hence the "devout" are so
named because they "devote" themselves to God and thus proclaim their
complete subjection to Him. Thus, too, among the heathen of old those
were termed "devout" who for the army's sake "devoted" themselves to
their idols unto death, as Livy tells us was the case with the two
Decii. Hence devotion seems to mean nothing else than "the will to give
oneself promptly to those things which pertain to God's service"; thus
it is said in Exodus: _The multitude of the children of Israel ...
offered first-fruits to the Lord with a most ready and devout mind._ It
is clear, however, that a wish to do _readily_ what belongs to God's
service is a special act. Hence devotion is a special act of the will.
But some argue that devotion is not a special kind of act, thus:
1. That which serves to qualify other acts cannot be itself a special
act. But devotion appears to qualify certain other acts; thus it is said
that _all the multitude offered victims, and praises, and holocausts
with a devout mind_.
But that which moves another gives a certain measure to the
latter's movement. The will, however, moves the other faculties
of the soul to their respective acts; and, moreover, the will,
as aiming at an end in view, moves itself to the means towards
that end. Consequently, since devotion is the act of a man who
offers himself to serve Him Who is the Ultimate End, it follows
that devotion gives a certain measure to human acts--whether
they be the acts of the will itself with regard to the means to
an end, or the acts of the other faculties as moved by the will.
2. Again, no act which finds a place in different kinds of acts can be
itself a special kind of act. But devotion is to be found in acts of
different kinds, both in corporal acts, for example, and in spiritual;
thus a man is said to meditate devoutly, for instance, or to genuflect
But devotion does not find a place in different kinds of acts as
though it were a _species_ coming under different _genera_, but
in the same sense as the motive power of a moving principle is
virtually discoverable in the movements of the things it sets in
3. Lastly, all special kinds of acts belong either to the appetitive or
to the cognoscitive faculties. But devotion comes under neither of
these--as will be evident to anyone who will reflect upon the various
acts of these faculties respectively.
But devotion is an act of the appetitive powers of the soul, and
is, as we have said above, a movement of the will.
_Cajetan:_ With regard to the proper meaning of the term _devotion_,
note that since _devotion_ is clearly derived from _devoting_, and since
_to devote_--derived in its turn from _to vow_--means to promise
something spontaneously to God: it follows that the principle in all
such promises is the will; and further, not the will simply as such, but
the will so affected as to be prompt. Hence in Latin those are said to
be _devoted_ to some superior whose will is so affected towards him as
to make them prompt in his regard. And this seems to refer especially to
God and to those who in a sense stand in His place, as, for instance,
our rulers, our fatherland, and our principles of action. Hence in the
Church's usage the term _devotion_ is especially applied to those who
are so affected towards God as to be prompt in His regard and in all
that concerns Him. And so _devotion_ is here taken to signify the act of
a will so disposed, the act by which a man shows himself prompt in the
Divine service.... Thus, then, _devotion_, the principal act of the
virtue of religion, implies first of all the prompt desire of the Divine
honour in our exercise of Divine worship; and hence comes the prompt
choice of appropriate means to this end, and also the prompt carrying
out of what we see to be suitable to that end. And the proof of
possession of such _devotion_ is that truly devout souls, the moment
they perceive that some particular thing (or other) ought to be done for
the service of God, are so promptly moved towards it that they rejoice
in having to do or in actually doing it (_on_ 2. 2. 82. 1).
_S. Augustine:_ Give me, O Lord, Thyself; grant Thyself to me! For Thee
do I love, and if my love be but weak, then would I love Thee more. For
I cannot measure it so as to know how much my love falls short of that
love which shall make my life run to Thy embraces nor ever turn away
from Thee till I be hid in the hiding-place of Thy countenance. This
only do I know: that it fares ill with me when away from Thee; and this
not merely externally, but within me; for all abundance which is not my
God is but penury for me! (_Confessions_, XIII. viii. 2).
Is Devotion an Act of the Virtue of Religion?
Devotion is derived from "devoting oneself" or making vows. But a vow is
an act of the virtue of religion. Consequently devotion also is an act
of the virtue of religion.
It belongs to the same virtue to wish to do a thing and to have a prompt
will to do it, for the object of each of these acts is the same. For
this reason the Philosopher says: "Justice is that by which men will
and perform just deeds." And it is clear that to perform those things
which pertain to the Divine worship or service comes under the virtue of
religion. Consequently it belongs to the same virtue of religion to have
a prompt will to carry out these things--in other words, to be devout.
Whence it follows that devotion is an act of the virtue of religion.
But some argue that devotion is not an act of the virtue of religion,
1. Devotion means that a man gives himself to God. But this belongs to
the virtue of charity, for, as S. Denis says: "Divine love causes
ecstasy since it permits not that those who love should belong any more
to themselves, but to those things which they love." Whence devotion
would seem to be rather an act of charity than of the virtue of
It is indeed through charity that a man gives himself to God,
clinging to Him by a certain union of soul; but that a man
should give himself to God and occupy himself with the Divine
service, is due directly to the virtue of religion, though
indirectly it is due to the virtue of charity, which is the
principle of the virtue of religion.
2. Again, charity precedes the virtue of religion. But devotion seems to
precede charity; for charity is signified in Scripture by fire, and
devotion by the fat of the sacrifices--the material on which the fire
feeds. Consequently devotion is not an act of the virtue of religion.
But while the fat of the body is generated by the natural
digestive heat, that natural heat finds its nourishment in that
same fat. Similarly charity both causes devotion--since it is by
love that a man becomes prompt to serve his friend--and at the
same time charity is fed by devotion; just as all friendship is
preserved and increased by the practice of friendly acts and by
meditating upon them.
3. Lastly, by the virtue of religion a man turns to God alone. But
devotion extends to men as well; people, for instance, are said to be
devoted to certain Saints, and servants are said to be devoted to their
masters, as S. Leo says of the Jews, that being devoted to the Roman
laws, they said: _We have no king but Cæsar._ Consequently devotion
is not an act of the virtue of religion.
But the devotion which we have to the Saints of God, whether
living or dead, does not stop at them, but passes on to God,
since we venerate God in God's ministers. And the devotion which
subjects have to their temporal masters is of a different kind
altogether, just as the service of temporal masters differs from
the service of the Divine Master.
Is Contemplation, that is Meditation, the Cause of Devotion?
In Ps. xxxviii. 4 it is said: _And in my meditation a fire shall flame
out._ But spiritual fire causes devotion. Therefore meditation causes
The extrinsic and principal cause of devotion is God Himself; thus S.
Ambrose says: "God calls those whom He deigns to call; and whom He
wills to make religious He makes religious; and had He willed it He
would have made the Samaritans devout instead of indevout."
But the intrinsic cause of devotion on our part is meditation or
contemplation. For, as we have said, devotion is a certain act of the
will by which a man gives himself promptly to the Divine service. All
acts of the will, however, proceed from consideration, since the will's
object is good understood. Hence S. Augustine says: "The will starts
from the understanding." Meditation must, then, be the cause of devotion
inasmuch as it is from meditation that a man conceives the idea of
giving himself up to God.
And two considerations lead a man to do this: one is the consideration
of the Divine Goodness and of His benefits, whence the words of the
Psalmist: _But for me it is good to cling close to my God, to put my
hope in the Lord God._ And this consideration begets love, which is
the proximate cause of devotion. And the second is man's consideration
of his own defects which compel him to lean upon God, according to the
words: _I have lifted up mine eyes to the mountains, from whence help
shall come to me; my help is from the Lord Who made Heaven and
earth._ This latter consideration excludes all presumption which, by
making him lean upon himself, might prevent a man from submitting
himself to God.
Some, however, argue that contemplation or meditation is not the cause
of devotion, thus:
1. No cause hinders its own effect. But subtle intellectual meditations
often hinder devotion.
But it is the consideration of those things which naturally tend
to excite love of God which begets devotion; consideration of
things which do not come under this head, but rather distract
the mind from it, are a hindrance to devotion.
2. Again, if contemplation were the real cause of devotion, it should
follow that the higher the matter of our contemplation the greater the
devotion it begot. But the opposite is the case. For it frequently
happens that greater devotion is aroused by the contemplation of the
Passion of Christ and of the other mysteries of His Sacred Humanity than
by meditation upon the Divine excellences.
It is true that things which concern the Godhead are of
themselves more calculated to excite in us love, and
consequently devotion, since God is to be loved above all
things; yet it is due to the weakness of the human mind that
just as it needs to be led by the hand to the knowledge of
Divine things, so also must it be lead to Divine love by means
of the things of sense already known to it; and the chief of
these things is the Humanity of Christ, as is said in the
_Preface_ of the Mass: _So that knowing God visibly in the
flesh, we may thereby be carried away to the love of things
invisible._ Consequently the things that have to do with
Christ's Humanity lead us, as it were, by the hand and are thus
especially suited to stir up devotion in us; though, none the
less, devotion is principally concerned with the Divinity.
3. Lastly, if contemplation were the real cause of devotion, it ought to
follow that those who are the more fitted for contemplation are also the
more fitted for devotion; whereas the contrary is the case, for greater
devotion is often found among simple folk and in the female sex, where
contemplation is wanting.
But knowledge, as indeed anything which renders a person great,
occasions a man to trust in Himself, and hence he does not
wholly give himself to God. It is for this reason that knowledge
and suchlike things are sometimes a hindrance to a man's
devotion, whereas among women and simple folk devotion abounds
by the suppression of all elation. But if a man will only
perfectly subject to God his knowledge and any other perfection
he may have, then his devotion will increase.
* * * * *
_Cajetan:_ Note these two intrinsic causes of devotion: one, namely,
which arises from meditation upon God and His benefits, the other from
meditation on our own defects. Under the first head I must consider
God's goodness, mercy, and kindness towards mankind and towards myself;
the benefits, for instance, of creation according to His own Likeness,
of Redemption, of Baptism, of His inspirations, of His invitations--
whether directly or through the medium of others; His patient waiting
till I do penance; His Holy Eucharist; His preserving me from so many
perils both of body and soul; His care of me by means of His Angels; and
His other individual benefits. Under the second head come all my faults
and the punishments due to me, whether in the past or now in the
present; my proneness to sin; my misuse of my own powers by habituating
my thoughts and desires--as well as the inclinations of my other various
faculties--to evil; my sojourning in a region far away from His
Friendship and from His Divine conversation; my perverted affections
which make me think far more of temporal than of spiritual advantages or
disadvantages; my utter lack of virtue; the wounds of my ignorance, of
my malice, of my weakness, of my concupiscence; the shackles on my hands
and feet, on my good works, that is; the shackles, too, on my
affections, so that I dwell amidst darkness and rottenness and
bitterness, and shrink not from it! My deafness, too, to the inner voice
of my Shepherd; and, what is far worse, that I have chosen God for my
enemy and my adversary as often as I have chosen mortal sin, and that I
have thus offered Him the grievous insult of refusing to have Him for my
God, and choosing instead my belly, or money, or false delights--and
called them my God!
Meditations such as these should be in daily use among spiritual and
religious people, and for their sake they should put aside the
"much-speaking" of vocal prayer, however much it may appeal to them. And
it is of such meditations that devotion and, by consequence, other
virtues, are begotten. And they who do not give themselves to this form
of prayer at least once in the day cannot be called religious men or
women, nor even spiritual people. There can be no effect without a
cause, no end without means to it, no gaining the harbour on the island
save by a voyage in a ship; and so there can be no real religion without
repeated acts regarding its causes, the means to it, and the vehicle
that is to bring us thither (_on_ 2. 2. 82. 3).
_Cajetan:_ Just as he who removes an obstacle is the occasion of the
resulting effect--a man, for instance, who pulls down a pillar is the
occasion of the resulting fall of what it supported, and a man who
removes a water-dam is the occasion of the consequent flood--so in the
same way have women and simple folk a cause of devotion within
themselves, for they have not that obstacle which consists in
self-confidence. And because God bestows His grace on those who put no
obstacle to it, the Church therefore calls the female sex "devout."
Hence we are not to find fault with the learned for their knowledge, nor
are we to praise women for womanly weakness; but that abuse of knowledge
which consists in self-exaltation is blameworthy, just as the right use
of women's weakness in not being uplifted is praiseworthy (_on_ 2. 2.
Is Joy an Effect of Devotion?
In the Church's _Collect_ for the Thursday after the Fourth Sunday of
Lent we say: _May holy devotion fill with joy those whom the fast they
have undertaken chastises._
Of itself indeed, and primarily, devotion brings about a spiritual joy
of the mind; but as an accidental result it causes sorrow. For, as we
have said above, devotion arises from two considerations. Primarily it
arises from the consideration of the Divine Goodness, and from this
thought there necessarily follows gladness, in accordance with the
words: _I remembered God and was delighted._ Yet, as it were
accidentally, this consideration begets a certain sadness in those who
do not as yet fully enjoy God: _My soul hath thirsted after the strong
living God_, and he immediately adds: _My tears have been my bread._
Secondarily, however, devotion arises from the consideration of our own
defects, for we thus reflect upon that from which a man, by devout acts
of the will, turns away, so as no longer to dwell in himself, but to
subject himself to God.
And this consideration is the converse of the former: for of itself it
tends to cause sadness since it makes us dwell upon our defects;
accidentally, however, it causes joy, for it makes us think of the hope
we have of God's assistance.
Hence joy of heart primarily and of itself follows from devotion; but
secondarily and accidentally there results a sadness which is unto God.
Some, however, argue that joy is not an effect of devotion, thus:
1. Christ's Passion, as said before, is especially calculated to cause
devotion. But from dwelling on it there follows a certain affliction of
soul: _Remember my poverty ... the wormwood and the gall_--that is,
the Sacred Passion; and then follows: _I will be mindful, and remember,
and my soul shall languish within me._
In meditation on the Passion of Christ there is food for
sadness--viz., the thought of the sins of men, and to take these
away Christ had need to suffer. But there is also food for
joy--viz., the thought of God's merciful kindness towards us in
providing us such a deliverance.
2. Again, devotion principally consists in the interior sacrifice of the
heart: _A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit_; consequently
affliction, rather than pleasure or joy, is the outcome of devotion.
But the soul which is on the one hand saddened because of its
shortcomings in this present life, is on the other hand
delighted at the thought of the goodness of God and of the hope
of Divine assistance.
3. Lastly, S. Gregory of Nyssa says: "Just as laughter proceeds from
joy, so are sorrow and groaning signs of sadness." But out of devotion
some burst into tears.
Yet tears spring not from sadness alone, but also from a certain
tenderness of feeling: and especially is this the case when we
reflect on something that, while pleasant, has in it a certain
admixture of sadness; thus men are wont to weep from loving
affection when they recover their children or others dear to
them whom they had thought lost. And it is in this sense that
tears spring from devotion.
* * * * *
_Cajetan:_ Notice the proof here afforded that those are not devout
persons who are habitually sad and gloomy, and who cannot mingle with
others without getting into difficulties or dissolving into tears. For
devout folk are cheerful, and are full of joy in their souls; and this
not solely by reason of the principal cause, as is stated in the text,
but also by reason of a secondary cause--the thought, namely, of their
own failings. For the sadness of devout folk is _according to God_, and
joy accompanies it; whence S. Augustine's remark: "Let a man grieve, but
let him rejoice at his grief." Therefore it is that we read of the
Saints that they were joyful and bright; and rightly so, for they had
begun upon earth their "heavenly conversation" (_on_ 2. 2. 82. 4).
_S. Augustine:_ For Thee do I yearn, Justice and Innocence, Beautiful
and Fair in Thy beauteous light that satisfies and yet never sates! For
with Thee is repose exceedingly and life without disquiet! He that
enters into Thee enters into the joy of his Lord; he shall know no fear,
and in the Best shall be best. But I have deserted Thee and have
wandered away, O Lord, my God! Too far have I wandered from Thee, the
Steadfast One, in my youth, and I have become to myself a very land of
want! (_Confessions_, II. x.).
 VIII. 9 and X. 29.
 xxxv. 20-21.
 2 Paral. xxix. 31.
 _Ethics_, V. i. 3.
 _Of the Divine Names_, chap. iv., part i., lect. 10.
 _Sermon VIII.: On the Passion of Our Lord._
 S. John xix. 15.
 _Commentary on S. Luke_ ix. 55.
 _De Trinitate_, ix. 12; xv. 23.
 Ps. lxxii. 28.
 Ps. cxx. 1, 2.
 S. Luke xv. 13, 16.
 Ps. lxxvi. 4.
 Ps. xli. 3.
 Lam. iii. 19.
 Ps. i. 19.
 _De Homine_, xii.
 _De Vera et Falsa Poenitentia_, xiii.
 Phil. iii. 20.
I. Is Prayer an Act of the Appetitive Powers?
Cardinal Cajetan, On Prayer based on Friendship
II. Is it Fitting to Pray?
Cardinal Cajetan, On Prayer as a True Cause
S. Augustine, _On the Sermon on the Mount_, II. iii. 14
" _On the Gift of Perseverance_, vii. 15
III. Is Prayer an Act of the Virtue of Religion?
Cardinal Cajetan, On the Humility of Prayer
S. Augustine, _On Psalm_ cii. 10
" _Of the Gift of Perseverance_, xvi. 39
IV. Ought We to Pray to God Alone?
S. Augustine, _Sermon_, cxxvii. 2
V. Should We in our Prayers ask for anything Definite from God?
S. Augustine, _De Catechizandis Rudibus_, xxv. 47
" _Confessions_, X. xxix.
" _Confessions_, XI. ii. 2
VI. Ought We in our Prayers to ask for Temporal Things from God?
S. Augustine, _On Psalm_ xxxvii. 10
" _Confessions_, I. xx. 2
" _Confessions_, IX. iv. 12
S. Thomas is miraculously relieved from Toothache
S. Augustine, _Sermon_, lxxx. 7
" _Sermon_, cccliv. 8
VII. Ought We to Pray for Others?
VIII. Ought We to Pray for our Enemies?
S. Augustine, _Sermon_, xv., on _Psalm_ xxv. 8
IX. On the Seven Petitions of the Lord's Prayer
Cardinal Cajetan, On the Grouping of these Petitions
S. Augustine, _Confessions_, VII. x. 2
" _Sermon_, lvii., _on S. Matt._ vi. 7
" _Sermon_, lvi. 9, _on S. Matt._ vi.
" _Sermon_, lvi. 8, _on S. Matt._ vi.
" _Of the City of God_, xix. 27
S. Thomas's Rhythm, _Adoro Te Devote_
X. Is Prayer Peculiar to Rational Creatures?
XI. Do the Saints in Heaven Pray for Us?
Cardinal Cajetan, On the Saints in Limbo
XII. Should Prayer be Vocal?
Cardinal Cajetan, On the Conditions of Vocal Prayer
S. Augustine, _Confessions_, IX. iv. 8
" _Confessions_, X. xxxiii. 50
" _On Psalm_ cxviii., _Sermon_ xxix. 1
XIII. Must Prayer necessarily be Attentive?
Cardinal Cajetan, On the Varieties of Attention at Prayer
S. Augustine, _On Psalm_ lxxxv. 7
" _On Psalm_ cxlv. 1
S. Thomas, _On Distractions, Com. on 1 Cor._ xiv. 14
XIV. Should our Prayers be Long?
XV. Is Prayer Meritorious?
S. Augustine, _On Psalm_ xxvi.
" _Ep._ cxxx. _ad Probam._
XVI. Do Sinners gain Anything from God by their Prayers?
XVII. Can We rightly term "Supplications," "Prayers,"
"Intercessions," and "Thanksgivings," parts of Prayer?
Cardinal Cajetan, On the Prayer of the Consecration
S. Augustine, _Of Divers Questions_, iv.
Is Prayer an Act of the Appetitive Powers?
S. Isidore says: "To pray is the same thing as to speak." Speaking,
however, belongs to the intellect. Hence prayer is not an act of the
appetitive, but of the intellectual faculties.
According to Cassiodorus, on those words of the Psalmist: _Hear my
prayer, O Lord, and my supplication, give ear to my tears_, prayer
means "the lips' reasoning." Now there is this difference between the
speculative and the practical reason, that the speculative reason merely
apprehends things, while the practical reason not only apprehends
things, but actually causes them. But one thing is the cause of another
in two ways: in one way, perfectly--namely, as inducing a necessity--as
happens when the effect comes entirely under the power of a cause; in
another way, imperfectly--namely, by merely disposing to it--as happens
when an effect is not entirely under the power of a cause.
And so, too, reason is in two ways the cause of certain things: in one
way as imposing a necessity; and in this way it belongs to the reason to
command not merely the lower faculties and the bodily members, but even
men who are subject to us, and this is done by giving commands. In
another way as inducing, and in some sort disposing to, an effect; and
in this way the reason asks for something to be done by those who are
subject to it, whether they be equals or superiors.
But both of these--namely, to command something, or to ask or beg for
something to be done--imply a certain arrangement--as when a man
arranges for something to be done by somebody else. And in this respect
both of these acts come under the reason whose office it is to arrange.
Hence the Philosopher says: "Reason asks for the best things."
Here, then, we speak of prayer as implying a certain asking or petition,
for, as S. Augustine says: "Prayer is a certain kind of petition";
so, too, S. John Damascene says: "Prayer is the asking of fitting
things from God."
Hence it is clear that the prayer of which we are here speaking is an
act of the reason.
Some, however, think that prayer is an act of the appetitive powers,
1. The whole object of prayer is to be heard, and the Psalmist says that
it is our desires which are heard: _The Lord hath heard the desire of
the poor._ Prayer, then, is desire; but desire is an act of the
But the Lord is said to hear the desires of the poor either
because their desire is the reason why they ask--since our
petitions are in a certain sense the outward expression of our
desires; or this may be said in order to show the swiftness with
which He hears them--even while things are only existing in the
poor man's desire; God hears them even before they are expressed
in prayer. And this accords with the words of Isaias: _And it
shall come to pass that before they shall call I will hear, as
they are yet speaking I will hear._
2. Again, Denis the Areopagite says: "But before all things it is good
to begin with prayer, as thereby giving ourselves up to and uniting
ourselves with God." But union with God comes through love, and
love belongs to the appetitive powers; therefore prayer, too, would seem
to belong to the appetitive powers.
But the will moves the reason to its end or object. Hence there
is nothing to prevent the reason, under the direction of the
will, from tending to the goal of charity, which is union with
God. Prayer, however, tends towards God--moved, that is, by the
will, which itself is motived by charity--in two ways: in one
way by reason of that which is asked for, since in prayer we
have particularly to ask that we may be united with God,
according to those words: _One thing I have asked of the Lord,
this will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the
Lord all the days of my life._ And in another way prayer
tends towards God--by reason, namely, of the petitioner himself;
for such a one must approach him from whom he asks something,
and this either bodily, as when he draws nigh to a man, or
mentally, as when he draws nigh to God.
Hence the same Denis says: "When we invoke God in prayer we are
before Him with our minds laid bare." In the same sense S. John
Damascene says: "Prayer is the ascent of the mind towards God."
_Cajetan:_ Prayer demands of the petitioner a twofold union with God:
the one is general--the union, that is, of friendship--and is produced
by charity, so that further on we shall find the friendship arising
from charity enumerated among the conditions for infallibly efficacious
prayer. The second kind of union may be termed substantial union; it is
the effect of prayer itself. It is that union of application by which
the mind offers itself and all it has to God in service--viz., by devout
affections, by meditations, and by external acts. By such union as this
a man who prays is inseparable from God in his worship and service, just
as when one man serves another he is inseparable from him in his service
(_on_ 2. 2. 83. 1).
"And now, O Lord, Thou art our Father, and we are clay: and Thou
art our Maker, and we are all the works of Thy hands. Be not
very angry, O Lord, and remember no longer our iniquity: behold,
see we are all Thy people."
Is It Fitting To Pray?
In S. Luke's Gospel we read: _We ought always to pray and not to
A threefold error regarding prayer existed amongst the ancients; for
some maintained that human affairs were not directed by Divine
Providence; whence it followed that it was altogether vain to pray or to
worship God; of such we read: _You have said, he laboureth in vain that
serveth God_. A second opinion was that all things, even human
affairs, happened of necessity--whether from the immutability of Divine
Providence, or from a necessity imposed by the stars, or from the
connection of causes; and this opinion, of course, excluded all utility
from prayer. A third opinion was that human affairs were indeed directed
by Divine Providence, and that human affairs did not happen of
necessity, but that Divine Providence was changeable, and that
consequently its dispositions were changed by our prayers and by other
acts of religious worship. These views, however, have elsewhere been
shown to be wrong.
Consequently we have so to set forth the utility of prayer as neither to
make things happen of necessity because subject to Divine Providence,
nor to suggest that the arrangements of Divine Providence are subject to
To bring this out clearly we must consider that Divine Providence not
merely arranges what effects shall take place, but also from what causes
they shall proceed, and in what order.
But amongst other causes human acts are causes of certain effects. Hence
men must do certain things, not so that their acts may change the Divine
arrangement, but that by their acts they may bring about certain effects
according to the order arranged by God; and it is the same with natural
causes. It is the same, too, in the case of prayer. For we do not pray
in order to change the Divine arrangements, but in order to win that
which God arranged should be fulfilled by means of prayers; or, in S.
Gregory's words: "Men by petitioning may merit to receive what Almighty
God arranged before the ages to give them."
Some, however, maintain that prayer is futile, thus:
1. Prayer seems to be necessary in order that we may bring our wants to
the notice of Him to Whom we make the petition. But our Lord says: _Your
Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things._
But it is not necessary for us to set forth our petitions before
God in order to make known to Him our needs or desires, but
rather that we ourselves may realize that in these things it is
needful to have recourse to the Divine assistance.
2. Again, by prayer the mind of him to whom it is made is prevailed upon
to grant what is asked of him; but the mind of God is unchangeable and
inflexible: _The Triumpher in Israel will not spare, and will not be
moved to repentance; for He is not a man that He should repent._
Consequently it is unavailing to pray to God.
But our prayers do not aim at changing the Divine arrangements,
but at obtaining by our prayers what God has arranged to give
3. Lastly, it is more generous to give to one who does not ask than to
one who asks, for, as Seneca remarks: "Nothing is bought at a dearer
price than what is bought with prayers." Whereas God is most
God, indeed, bestows on us many things out of His generosity,
even things for which we do not ask; but He wishes to grant us
some things on the supposition that we ask for them. And this is
for our advantage, for it is intended to beget in us a certain
confidence in having recourse to God, as well as to make us
recognize that He is the Author of all good to us. Hence S.
Chrysostom says: "Reflect what great happiness is bestowed upon
you, what glory is given you, namely, to converse in your
prayers with God, to join in colloquy with Christ, and to beg
for what you wish or desire."
_Cajetan:_ Notice how foolish are some Christians who, when desirous of
reaching certain ends attainable by nature or art, are most careful to
apply such means, and would rightly regard their hopes as vain unless
they applied them; and yet at the same time they have quite false
notions of the fruits to be derived from prayer: as though prayer were
no cause at all, or at least but a remote one! Whence it comes to pass
that, having false ideas about the causes, they fail to reap any fruit
(_on_ 2. 2. 83. 2).
_S. Augustine:_ But some may say: It is not so much a question whether
we are to pray by words or deeds as whether we are to pray at all if God
already knows what is needful for us. Yet the very giving ourselves to
prayer has the effect of soothing our minds and purifying them; it makes
us more fit to receive the Divine gifts which are spiritually poured out
upon us. For God does not hear us because of a display of prayer on our
part; He is always ready, indeed, to give us His light, not, indeed, His
visible light, but the light of the intellect and the spirit. It is we
who are not always prepared to receive it, and this because we are
preoccupied with other things and swallowed up in the darkness resulting
from desire of the things of earth. When we pray, then, our hearts must
turn to God, Who is ever ready to give if only we will take what He
gives. And in so turning to Him we must purify the eye of our mind by
shutting out all thought for the things of time, that so--with
single-minded gaze--we may be able to bear that simple light that shines
divinely, and neither sets nor changes. And not merely to bear it, but
even to abide in it; and this not simply without strain, but with a
certain unspeakable joy. In this joy the life of the Blessed is truly
and really perfected (_On the Sermon on the Mount_, II. iii. 14).
_S. Augustine:_ He could have bestowed these things on us even without
our prayers; but He wished that by our prayers we should be taught from
Whom these benefits come. For from whom do we receive them if not from
Him from Whom we are bidden to ask them? Assuredly in this matter the
Church does not demand laborious disputations; but note Her daily
prayers: She prays that unbelievers may believe: God then brings them to
the Faith. She prays that the faithful may persevere: God gives them
perseverance to the end. And God foreknew that He would do these things.
For this is the predestination of the Saints whom _He chose in Christ
before the foundation of the world_ (_Of the Gift of Perseverance_,
"Thou hast taught me, O God, from my youth; and till now I will
declare Thy wonderful works. And unto old age and grey hairs, O
God, forsake me not, until I shew forth Thy arm to all the
generation that is to come."
Is Prayer an Act of the Virtue of Religion?
In Ps. cxl. 2 we read: _Let my prayer be directed as incense in Thy
sight_, and on these words the Gloss remarks: "According to this figure,
in the Old Law incense was said to be offered as an odour of sweetness
to the Lord." And this comes under the virtue of religion. Therefore
prayer is an act of religion.
It properly belongs to the virtue of religion to give due reverence and
honour to God, and hence all those things by which such reverence is
shown to God come under religion. By prayer, however, a man shows
reverence to God inasmuch as he submits himself to Him and, by praying,
acknowledges that he needs God as the Author of all his good. Whence it
is clear that prayer is properly an act of religion.
Some, however, maintain that prayer is not an act of the virtue of
1. Prayer is rather the exercise of the Gift of Understanding than of
the virtue of religion. For the virtue of religion comes under Justice;
it is therefore resident in the will. But prayer belongs to the
intellectual faculties, as we have shown above.
But we must remember that the will moves the other faculties of
the soul to their objects or ends, and that consequently the
virtue of religion, which is in the will, directs the acts of
the other faculties in the reverence they show towards God. Now
amongst these other faculties of the soul the intellect is the
noblest and the most nigh to the will; consequently, next to
devotion, which belongs to the will itself, prayer, which
belongs to the intellective part, is the chief act of religion,
for by it religion moves a man's understanding towards God.
2. Again, acts of worship fall under precept, whereas prayer seems to
fall under no precept, but to proceed simply from the mere wish to pray;
for prayer is merely asking for what we want; consequently prayer is not
an act of the virtue of religion.
Yet not only to ask for what we desire, but to desire rightly,
falls under precept; to desire, indeed, falls under the precept
of charity, but to ask falls under the precept of religion--the
precept which is laid down in the words: _Ask and ye shall
3. Lastly, the virtue of religion embraces due worship and ceremonial
offered to the Divinity; prayer, however, offers God nothing, but only
seeks to obtain things from Him.
In prayer a man offers to God his mind, which he subjects to Him
in reverence, and which he, in some sort, lays bare before
Him--as we have just seen in S. Denis's words. Hence, since the
human mind is superior to all the other exterior or bodily
members, and also to all exterior things which have place in the
Divine worship, it follows that prayer, too, is pre-eminent
among the acts of the virtue of religion.
_Cajetan:_ In prayer or petition there are three things to be
considered: the thing petitioned for, the actual petition, and the
petitioner. As far, then, as the thing petitioned for is concerned, we
give nothing to God when we pray; rather we ask Him to give us
something. But if we consider the actual petition, then we do offer
something to God when we pray. For the very act of petitioning is an act
of subjection; it is an acknowledgment of God's power. And the proof of
this is that proud men would prefer to submit to want rather than humble
themselves by asking anything of others. Further, the petitioner, by the
very fact that he petitions, acknowledges that he whom he petitions has
the power to assist him, and is merciful, or just, or provident; it is
for this reason that he hopes to be heard. Hence petition or prayer is
regarded as an act of the virtue of religion, the object of which is to
give honour to God. For we honour God by asking things of Him, and this
by so much the more as--whether from our manner of asking or from the
nature of what we ask for--we acknowledge Him to be above all things, to
be our Creator, our Provider, our Redeemer, etc. And this is what S.
Thomas points out in the body of the Article. But if we consider the
petitioner: then, since man petitions with his mind--for petition is an
act of the mind--and since the mind is the noblest thing in man, it
follows that by petitioning we submit to God that which is noblest in
us, since we use it to ask things of Him, and thereby do Him honour.
Thus by prayer we offer our minds in sacrifice to God; so, too, by
bending the knee to Him we offer to Him and sacrifice to Him our knees,
by using them to His honour (_on_ 2. 2. 83. 3).
_S. Augustine:_ I stand as a beggar at the gate, He sleepeth not on Whom
I call! Oh, may He give me those three loaves! For you remember the
Gospel? Ah! see how good a thing it is to know God's word; those of you
who have read it are stirred within yourselves! For you remember how a
needy man came to his friend's house and asked for three loaves. And He
says that he sleepily replied to him: "I am resting, and my children are
with me asleep." But he persevered in his request, and wrung from him by
his importunity what his deserts could not get. But God wishes to give;
yet only to those who ask--lest He should give to those who understand
not. He does not wish to be stirred up by your weariness! For when you
pray you are not being troublesome to one who sleeps; _He slumbereth not
nor sleeps that keepeth Israel._ ... He, then, sleeps not; see you
that your faith sleeps not! (_Enarr. in Ps._ cii. 10).
_S. Augustine:_ Some there are who either do not pray at all, or pray
but tepidly; and this because, forsooth, they have learnt from the Lord
Himself that God knows, even before we ask Him, what is necessary
for us. But because of such folk are we to say that these words are not
true and therefore to be blotted out of the Gospel? Nay, rather, since
it is clear that God gives some things even to those who do not ask--as,
for instance, the beginnings of faith--and has prepared other things for
those only who pray for them--as, for instance, final perseverance--it
is evident that he who fancies he has this latter of himself does not
pray to have it (_Of the Gift of Perseverance_, xvi. 39).
"I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise
to my God while I have my being. Let my speech be acceptable to
Him; but I will take delight in the Lord."
Ought We To Pray To God Alone?
In Job v. 1 we read: _Call, now, if there be any that will answer thee,
and turn to some of the Saints._
Prayer is addressed to a person in two ways: in one way as a petition to
be granted by him; in another way as a petition to be forwarded by him.
In the former way we only pray to God, for all our prayers ought to be
directed to the attaining of grace and glory, and these God alone gives:
_The Lord will give grace and glory._ But in the latter way we set
forth our prayers both to the holy Angels and to men; and this, not that
through their intervention God may know our petitions, but rather that
by their prayers and merits our petitions may gain their end. Hence it
is said in the Apocalypse: _And the smoke of the incense of the prayers
of the Saints ascended up before God from the hand of the Angel._
And this is clearly shown, too, from the style adopted by the Church in
her prayers: for of the Holy Trinity we pray that mercy may be shown us;
but of all the Saints, whomsoever they may be, we pray that they may
intercede for us.
Some, however, maintain that we ought to pray to God alone, thus:
1. Prayer is an act of the virtue of religion. But only God is to be
worshipped by the virtue of religion. Consequently it is to Him alone
that we should pray.
But in our prayers we only show religious worship to Him from
Whom we hope to obtain what we ask, for by so doing we confess
Him to be the Author of all our goods; but we do not show
religious worship to those whom we seek to have as intercessors
with us before God.
2. Again, prayer to those who cannot know what we pray for is idle. But
God alone can know our prayers, and this because prayer is frequently a
purely interior act of which God alone is cognizant, as the Apostle
says: _I will pray with the spirit. I will pray also with the
understanding_; and also because, as S. Augustine says: The
dead know not, not even the Saints, what the living--not even excepting
their own children--are doing.
It is true that the dead, if we consider only their natural
condition, do not know what is done on earth, and especially do
they not know the interior movements of the heart. But to the
Blessed, as S. Gregory says, manifestation is made in the
Divine Word of those things which it is fitting that they should
know as taking place in our regard, even the interior movements
of the heart. And, indeed, it is most befitting their state of
excellence that they should be cognizant of petitions addressed
to them, whether vocally or mentally. Hence through God's
revelation they are cognizant of the petitions which we address
3. Lastly, some say: if we do address prayers to any of the Saints, the
sole reason for doing so lies in the fact that they are closely united
to God. But we do not address prayers to people who, while still living
in this world, are closely knit to God, nor to those who are in
Purgatory and are united to Him. There seems, then, to be no reason why
we should address prayers to the Saints in Paradise.
But they who are still in the world or in Purgatory do not as
yet enjoy the vision of the Divine Word so as to be able to know
what we think or say, hence we do not implore their help when we
pray; though when talking with living people we do ask them to
* * * * *
_S. Augustine:_ It is no great thing to live long, nor even to live for
ever; but it is indeed a great thing to live well. Oh, let us love
eternal life! And we realize how earnestly we ought to strive for that
eternal life when we note how men who love this present temporal life so
work for it--though it is to pass away--that, when the fear of death
comes, they strive all they can, not, indeed, to do away with death, but
to put death off! How men labour when death approaches! They flee from
it; they hide from it; they give all they have; they try to buy
themselves off; they work and strive; they put up with tortures and
inconveniences; they call in physicians; they do everything that lies
within their power! Yet even if they spend all their toil and their
substance, they can only secure that they may live a little longer, not
that they may live for ever! If, then, men spend such toil, such
endeavour, so much money, so much anxiety, watchfulness, and care, in
order to live only a little longer, what ought we not to do that we may
live for ever? And if we call them prudent who take every possible
precaution to stave off death, to live but a few days more, to save just
a few days, then how foolish are they who so pass their days as to lose
the Day of Eternity! (_Sermon_, cxxvii. 2).
"May God have mercy on us, and bless us: may He cause the light
of His countenance to shine upon us, and may He have mercy on
us. That we may know Thy way upon earth: Thy salvation in all
nations. Let people confess to Thee, O God: let all people give
praise to Thee. Let the nations be glad and rejoice: for Thou
judgest the people with justice, and directest the nations upon
earth. Let the people, O God, confess to Thee: let all the
people give praise to Thee: the earth hath yielded her fruit.
May God, our God bless us, may God bless us: and all the ends of
the earth fear Him."
Should We in our Prayers ask for Anything Definite from God?
Our Lord taught the disciples to ask definitely for the things which are
contained in the petitions of the Lord's Prayer: _Thus shalt thou
Maximus Valerius tells of Socrates that he "maintained that nothing
further should be asked of the immortal gods save that they should give
us good things; and this on the ground that they knew well what was best
for each individual, whereas we often ask in our prayers for things
which it would be better not to have asked for." And this opinion has
some truth in it as regards those things which can turn out ill, or
which a man can use well or ill, as, for example, riches which, as the
same Socrates says, "have been to the destruction of many; or honours
which have ruined many; or the possession of kingdoms, the issues of
which are so often ill-fated; or splendid matrimonial alliances, which
have sometimes proved the ruin of families." But there are certain good
things of which a man cannot make a bad use--those, namely, which cannot
have a bad issue. And these are the things by which we are rendered
blessed and by which we merit beatitude; these are the things for which
the Saints pray unconditionally: _Show us Thy Face and we shall be
saved_; and again: _Lead me along the path of Thy
Some, however, say that we ought not in our prayers to ask for definite
things from God, thus:
1. S. John Damascene defines prayer as "asking from God things that are
fitting"; consequently prayer for things which are not expedient is
of no efficacy, as S. James says: _You ask and receive not, because you
ask amiss_. Moreover, S. Paul says: _We know not what we should
pray for as we ought_.
But it is also true that though a man cannot of himself know
what he ought to pray for, yet, as the Apostle says in the same
place: _In this the Spirit helpeth our infirmity_--namely, in
that, by inspiring us with holy desires, He makes us ask aright.
Hence Our Lord says that the true adorers _must adore in spirit
and in truth_.
2. Further, he who asks from another some definite thing strives to bend
that other's will to do what the petitioner wants. But we ought not to
direct our prayers towards making God will what we will, but rather we
should will what He wills--as the Gloss says on the words of Ps. xxxii.
1: _Rejoice in the Lord, O ye just!_ It would seem, therefore, that we
ought not to ask for definite things from God when we pray.
Yet when in our prayers we ask for things which appertain to our
salvation, we are conforming our will to the will of God, for of
His will it is said: _He will have all men to be saved_.
3. Lastly, evil things cannot be asked from God; and He Himself invites
us to receive good things. But it is idle for a person to ask for what
he is invited to receive.
God, it is true, invites us to receive good things; but He
wishes us to come to them--not, indeed, by the footsteps of the
body--but by pious desires and devout prayers.
* * * * *
_S. Augustine:_ Fly, then, by unwavering faith and holy habits, fly,
brethren, from those torments where the torturers never desist, and
where the tortured never die; whose death is unending, and where in
their anguish they cannot die. But burn with love for and desire of the
eternal life of the Saints where there is no longer the life of toil nor
yet wearisome repose. For the praises of God will beget no disgust,
neither will they ever cease. There will there be no weariness of the
soul, no bodily fatigue; there will there be no wants: neither wants of
your own which will call for succour, nor wants of your neighbour
demanding your speedy help. God will be all your delight; there will ye
find the abundance of that Holy City that from Him draws life and
happily and wisely lives in Him. For there, according to that promise of
His for which we hope and wait, we shall be made equal to the Angels of
God; and equally with them shall we then enjoy that vision of the Holy
Trinity in which we now but walk by faith. For we now believe what we do
not see, that so by the merits of that same faith we then may merit to
see what we believe, and may so hold fast to it that the Equality of
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and the Unity of the Trinity, may no longer
come to us under the garb of faith, nor be the subject of contentious
talk, but may rather be what we may drink in in purest and deepest
contemplation amid the silence of Eternity (_De Catechizandis Rudibus_,
_S. Augustine:_ O Lord, my God, give me what Thou biddest and then bid
what Thou wilt! Thou biddest us be continent. _And I knew_, as a certain
one says, _that I could not otherwise be continent save God gave it, and
this also was a point of wisdom to know Whose gift it was_. Now by
continence we are knit together and brought back into union with that
One from Whom we have wandered away after many things. For he loves Thee
but little who loves other things with Thee, and loves them not for
Thee! O Love that ever burnest and wilt never be extinguished! O
Charity! O Lord, my God, set me on fire! Thou dost bid continence? Then
give me what Thou biddest and bid what Thou wilt! (_Confessions_, X.
_S. Augustine:_ O Lord, my God, listen to my prayer and mercifully hear
my desire! For my desire burns not for myself alone, but fraternal
charity bids it be of use. And Thou seest in my heart that it is so; for
I would offer to Thee in sacrifice the service of my thoughts and of my
tongue. Grant me then what I may offer to Thee. For I am needy and poor,
and Thou art rich towards all that call upon Thee; for in peace and
tranquillity hast Thou care for us. Circumcise, then, my lips, within
and without, from all rashness and all untruthfulness. May Thy
Scriptures be my chaste delight; may I never be deceived in them nor
deceive others out of them. Attend, O Lord, and have mercy upon me, O
Lord, my God. Thou art the Light of the blind, the Strength of the weak,
and so, too, art Thou the Light of them that see and the Strength of
them that are strong. Look, then, on my soul, and hear me when I cry
from out the depths! (_Confessions_, XI. ii. 2).
"Look down from Heaven, and behold from Thy holy habitation and
the place of Thy glory: where is Thy zeal, and Thy strength, the
multitude of Thy bowels, and of Thy mercies? they have held back
themselves from me. For Thou art our Father, and Abraham hath
not known us, and Israel hath been ignorant of us: Thou, O Lord,
art our Father, our Redeemer, from everlasting is Thy
Ought We in our Prayers to ask for Temporal Things from God?
We have the authority of the Book of Proverbs for answering in the
affirmative, for there we read: _Give me only the necessaries of
S. Augustine says to Proba: "It is lawful to pray for what it is
lawful to desire." But it is lawful to desire temporal things, not
indeed as our principal aim or as something which we make our end, but
rather as props and stays which may be of assistance to us in our
striving for the possession of God; for by such things our bodily life
is sustained, and such things, as the Philosopher says, co-operate
organically to the production of virtuous acts. Consequently it is
lawful to pray for temporal things. And this is what S. Augustine means
when he says to Proba: "Not unfittingly does a person desire sufficiency
for this life when he desires it and nothing more; for such sufficiency
is not sought for its own sake but for the body's health, and for a mode
of life suitable to a man's position so that he may not be a source of
inconvenience to those with whom he lives. When, then, we have these
things we must pray that we may retain them, and when we have not got
them we must pray that we may have them."
Some, however, argue that we ought not to pray for temporal things,
1. What we pray for we seek. But we are forbidden to seek for temporal
things, for it is said: _Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and
His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you_, those
temporal things, namely, which He says are not to be sought but which
are to be added to the things which we seek.
But temporal things are to be sought secondarily not primarily.
Hence S. Augustine: "When He says the former is _to be
sought first_ (namely the kingdom of God), He means that the
latter (namely temporal good things) are to be sought
afterwards; not _afterwards_ in point of time, but _afterwards_
in point of importance; the former as our good, the latter as
2. Again, we only ask for things about which we are solicitous. But we
are not allowed to be solicitous about temporal concerns: _Be not
solicitous for your life, what ye shall eat_....
But not all solicitude about temporal affairs is forbidden, only
such as is superfluous and out of due order.
3. Further, we ought in prayer to uplift our minds to God. But by asking
for temporal things in prayer our mind descends to things beneath it,
and this is contrary to the teaching of the Apostle: _While we look not
at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For
the things which are seen are temporal: but the things which are not
seen are eternal._
When our mind is occupied with temporal affairs so as to set up
its rest in them then it remains in them, and is depressed by
them; but when the mind turns to them as a means of attaining to
eternal life it is not depressed by them, but rather uplifted by
4. Lastly, men ought not to pray except for things useful and good. But
temporal possessions are at times hurtful, and this not merely
spiritually but even temporally; hence a man ought not to ask them of
But it is clear that since we do not seek temporal things
primarily or for their own sake, but with reference to something
else, we consequently only ask them of God according as they may
be expedient for our salvation.
* * * * *
_S. Augustine: Lord, all my desire is before Thee, and my groaning is
not hid from Thee!_ It is not before men who cannot see the heart,
but _before Thee is all my desire_! And let your desires, too, be before
Him, and your Father Who seeth in secret will repay thee. For your very
desire is a prayer, and if your desire is continual your prayer, too, is
continual. Not without reason did the Apostle say: _Pray without
ceasing_. Yet can we genuflect without ceasing? Can we prostrate
without ceasing? Can we lift up our hands without ceasing? How, then,
does he say: _Pray without ceasing_? If by _prayer_ he meant such things
as these then I think we could not pray without ceasing. But there is
another prayer, an interior prayer, which is without ceasing--_desire_.
Whatever else you do, if only you desire that _rest_ you cease not
to pray. If you wish to pray without ceasing then desire without
ceasing. Your continual desire is your continual voice; but you will be
silent if you cease to love (_Enarr. in Ps._ xxxvii. 10).
_S. Augustine:_ But all these things are the gifts of my God; I did not
give them to myself; they are good, and all these things am I. He then
is good Who made me; nay, He Himself is my Good, and in Him do I rejoice
for all the good things which I had even as a boy! But in this did I sin
that, not in Him but in His creatures did I seek myself and other
pleasures, high thoughts and truths. Thus it was that I fell into
sorrow, confusion, and error. Thanks be to Thee, my Sweetness, my Honour
and my Trust, O my God! Thanks be to Thee for Thy gifts! But do Thou
keep them for me! For so doing Thou wilt be keeping me, and those things
which Thou hast given me will be increased and perfected, and I myself
shall be with Thee, for even that I should be at all is Thy gift to me!
(_Confessions_, I. xx. 2).
_S. Augustine:_ But I forget not, neither will I keep silence regarding
the severity of Thy scourge and the wondrous swiftness of Thy mercy.
Thou didst torture me with toothache; and when the pain had become so
great that I could not even speak, it came into my mind to tell all my
friends who were there to pray to Thee for me, to Thee the God of all
manner of succour. And I wrote my request on a wax tablet and I gave it
them to read. And hardly had we bent the knee in humble prayer than the
pain fled! But what a pain it was! And how did it disappear? I was
terrified, I confess it, O Lord my God! Never in all my life had I felt
anything like it! (_Confessions_, IX. iv. 12).
It is narrated of S. Thomas that when at Paris it happened that having
to lecture at the University on a subject which he had commenced the day
before, he rose at night to pray as was his wont, but discovered that a
tooth had suddenly pushed its way through his gums in such a way that he
could not speak. His companion suggested that since it was an
inopportune time for procuring assistance a message should be sent to
the University stating what had happened and pointing out that the
lecture could not be given till the tooth had been removed by a surgeon.
But S. Thomas, reflecting upon the difficulty in which the University
would be placed, considering also the danger which might arise from the
removal of the tooth in the way suggested, said to his companion: I see
no remedy save to trust to God's Providence. He then betook himself to
his accustomed place of prayer, and for a long space besought God with
tears to grant him this favour, leaving himself entirely in His hands.
And when he had thus prayed he took the tooth between his fingers, and
it came out at once without the slightest pain or wrench, and he found
himself freed from the impediment to his speech which it had caused.
This tooth he carried about with him for a long time as a reminder of an
act of Divine loving-kindness such as he was anxious not to forget, for
forgetfulness is the mother of ingratitude; he wished it, too, to move
him to still greater confidence in the power of prayer which had on that
occasion been so quickly heard (see _Vita S. Thomæ_, Bollandists, March
7, vol. i., 1865, pp. 673, 704, 712).
_S. Augustine:_ But temporal things are sometimes for our profit,
sometimes for our hurt. For many poverty was good, wealth did them harm.
For many a hidden life was best, high station did them harm. And on the
other hand money was good for some, and dignities, too, were good for
them--good, that is, for those who used them well; but such things did
harm when not taken away from those who used them ill. Consequently,
brethren, let us ask for these temporal things with moderation, being
sure that if we do receive them, He gives them Who knoweth what is best
suited to us. You have asked for something, then, and what you asked for
has not been given you? Believe in your Father Who would give it you if
it were expedient for you (_Sermon_, lxxx. 7).
_S. Augustine:_ Sometimes God in His wrath grants what you ask; at other
times in His mercy He refuses what you ask. When, then, you ask of Him
things which He praises, which He commands, things which He has promised
us in the next world, then ask in confidence and be instant in prayer as
far as in you lies, that so you may receive what you ask. For such
things as these are granted by the God of mercy; they flow not from His
wrath but from His compassion. But when you ask for temporal things,
then ask with moderation, ask with fear; leave all to Him so that if
they be for your profit He may give them you, if they be to your hurt He
may refuse them. For what is for our good and what is to our hurt the
Physician knoweth, not the patient (_Sermon_, cccliv. 8).
"Cast thy care upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee; He
shall not suffer the just to waver for ever."
Ought We To Pray for Others?
S. James, in his Epistle, says: _Pray for one another that ye may
As we said above, we ought in prayer to ask for those things which we
ought to desire. But we ought to desire good things not for ourselves
only but also for others, for this belongs to that charity which we
ought to exercise towards our neighbour. Hence charity demands that we
pray for others. In accordance with this S. Chrysostom says:
"Necessity compels us to pray for ourselves, fraternal charity urges us
to pray for others. But that prayer is more pleasing before God which
arises not so much from our needs as from the demands of fraternal
Some, however, urge that we ought not to pray for others, thus:
1. We are bound in our prayer to follow the norm which our Lord
delivered to us; but in the _Lord's Prayer_ we pray for ourselves and
not for others, for we say: _Give us this day our daily bread_, etc.
But S. Cyprian says: "We do not say _my_ Father, but _our_
Father, neither do we say Give _me_, but give _us_; and this
because the Teacher of Unity did not wish prayer to be made
privately, viz., that each should pray for himself alone; for He
wished one to pray for all since He in His single Person had
2. Again, we pray in order to be heard; but one of the conditions for
our prayer to be heard is that a man should pray for himself. Thus on
the words: _If ye ask the Father anything in My Name He will give it
you_, S. Augustine says: "All are heard for themselves, but
not for all in general, hence He does not say simply: _He will give it_,
but _He will give it you_."
But to pray for oneself is a condition attaching to prayer; not
indeed a condition affecting its merit, but a condition which is
necessary if we would ensure the attainment of what we ask. For
it sometimes happens that prayer made for another does not avail
even though it be devout and persevering and for things
pertaining to a man's salvation; and this is because of the
existence of some hindrance on the part of him for whom we pray,
as we read in Jeremias: _If Moses and Samuel shall stand
before Me, My soul is not towards this people_. None the less,
such prayer will be meritorious on the part of him who prays,
for he prays out of charity; thus on the words, _And my prayer
shall be turned into my bosom_, the Interlinear Gloss has:
"That is, and even though it avail not for them, yet shall I not
be without my reward."
3. Lastly, we are forbidden to pray for others if they are wicked,
according to the words: _Do not thou pray for this people ... and do not
withstand Me, for I will not hear thee_. And, on the other hand, we
ought not to pray for them if they are good, for in that case they will
be heard when they pray for themselves.
But we have to pray even for sinners, that they may be
converted, and for the good, that they may persevere and make
progress. Our prayers for sinners, however, are not heard for
all, but for some. For they are heard for those who are
predestined, not for those who are foreknown as reprobate; just
in the same way as when we correct our brethren, such
corrections avail among the predestinate but not among the
reprobate, according to the words: _No man can correct whom He
hath despised._ Wherefore also it is said: _He that knoweth
his brother to sin a sin that is not unto death, let him ask,
and life shall be given to him who sinneth not to death._
But just as we can refuse to no one, as long as he liveth on
this earth, the benefit of correction--for we cannot distinguish
between the predestinate and the reprobate, as S. Augustine
says--so neither can we refuse to anyone the suffrage of
And for good men we have to pray, and this for a threefold reason:
firstly, because the prayers of many are more easily heard; thus on the
words: _I beseech ye therefore, help me in your prayers for me_,
the Ordinary Gloss of S. Ambrose says: "Well does the Apostle ask his
inferiors to pray for him; for even the very least become great when
many in number, and when gathered together with one mind; and it is
impossible that the prayers of many should not avail" to obtain, that
is, what is obtainable. And secondly, that thanks may be returned by
many for the benefits conferred by God upon the just, for these same
benefits tend to the profit of many--as is evident from the Apostle's
words to the Corinthians. And thirdly, that those who are greater
may not therefore be proud, but may realize that they need the suffrages
of their inferiors.
"Father, I will that where I am they also whom Thou hast given
Me may be with Me; that they may see My glory, which Thou hast
given Me: because Thou hast loved Me before the foundation of
Ought We To Pray for Our Enemies?
_But I say to you ... pray for them that persecute and calumniate
To pray for others is a work of charity, as we have said above. Hence we
are bound to pray for our enemies in the same way as we are bound to
love them. We have already explained, in the _Treatise on Charity_, in
what sense we are bound to love our enemies; namely, that we are bound
to love their nature, not their fault; and that to love our enemies in
general is of precept; to love them, however, individually, is not of
precept save in the sense of being prepared to do so; a man, for
instance, is bound to be ready to love an individual enemy and to help
him in case of necessity, or if he comes to seek his pardon. But
absolutely to love our individual enemies, and to assist them, belongs
In the same way, then, it is necessary that in our general prayers for
others we should not exclude our enemies. But to make special prayer for
them belongs to perfection and is not necessary, save in some particular
Some, however, argue that we ought not to pray for our enemies, thus:
1. It is said in the Epistle to the Romans: _What things soever
were written were written for our learning_. But in Holy Scripture we
find many imprecations against enemies; thus, for instance: _Let
all my enemies be ashamed, let them be turned back and be ashamed very
speedily_. From which it would rather seem that we ought to pray against
our enemies than for them.
But the imprecations which find place in Holy Scripture can be
understood in four different ways: first of all according as the
Prophets are wont "to predict the future under the figure of
imprecations," as S. Augustine says; secondly, in that
certain temporal evils are sometimes sent by God upon sinners
for their amendment; thirdly, these denunciations may be
understood, not as demanding the punishment of men themselves,
but as directed against the kingdom of sin, in the sense that by
men being corrected sin may be destroyed; fourthly, in that the
Prophets conform their wills to the Divine Justice with regard
to the damnation of sinners who persevere in their sin.
2. Further, to be revenged upon our enemies means evil for our enemies.
But the Saints seek to be avenged upon their enemies: _How long, O Lord,
dost Thou not judge and revenge our blood on them that dwell on the
earth?_ And in accordance with this we find them rejoicing in the
vengeance taken upon sinners: _The just shall rejoice when he shall see
the revenge._ It would seem, then, that we ought rather to pray
against our enemies than for them.
But, on the contrary, as S. Augustine says: "The vengeance
of the martyrs is the overthrow of the empire of sin under whose
dominion they suffered so much"; or, as he says elsewhere:
"They demand vengeance, not by word of mouth, but by very
reason, just as the blood of Abel cried out from the earth."
Moreover, they rejoice in this vengeance, not for its own sake,
but because of the Divine Justice.
3. Lastly, a man's deeds and his prayers cannot be in opposition. But
men sometimes quite lawfully attack their enemies, else all wars would
be illegal. Hence we ought not to pray for our enemies.
But it is lawful to assail our enemies that so they may be
hindered from sin; and this is for their good and for that of
others. In the same way, then, it is lawful to pray for temporal
evils for our enemies to the end that they may be corrected. In
this sense our deeds and our prayers are not in opposition.
* * * * *
_S. Augustine:_ If there were no wicked folk, then for whom could we be
supposed to pray when we are told: _Pray for your enemies_? Perhaps you
would like to have good enemies. Yet how could that be? For unless you
yourself are bad you will not have good people for enemies; and if, on
the contrary, you are good, then no one will be your enemy save the
wicked folk (_Sermon_, xv., _on Ps._ xxv. 8).
"Have mercy upon us, O God of all, and behold us, and shew us
the light of Thy mercies: And send Thy fear upon the nations,
that have not sought after Thee: that they may know that there
is no God beside Thee, and that they may shew forth Thy wonders.
Lift up Thy hand over the strange nations, that they may see Thy
On the Seven Petitions of the _lord's Prayer_.
The Lord's Prayer is the most perfect of all prayers, for, as S.
Augustine says to Proba: "If we pray rightly and fittingly we can
say nothing else but what is set down in the _Lord's Prayer_." And since
prayer is, in a sort, the interpreter of our desires before God, we can
only rightly ask in prayer for those things which we can rightly desire.
But in the _Lord's Prayer_ not only do we have petitions for all those
things which we can rightly desire, but they are set forth in the order
in which they are to be desired. Hence this prayer not only teaches us
how to pray, but serves as the norm of all our dispositions of mind.
For it is clear that we desire first the end and then the means to the
attainment of that end. But our end is God, towards Whom our desires
tend in two ways: first, in that we desire God's glory; secondly, in
that we desire to enjoy that glory ourselves. The former of these
pertains to that love wherewith we love God in Himself, the latter to
that charity wherewith we love ourselves in God. Hence the first
petition runs: _Hallowed be Thy Name_, wherein we pray for God's glory;
and the second runs: _Thy kingdom come_, wherein we pray that we may
come to the glory of His kingdom.
But to this said end things lead us in two ways: viz., either
_essentially_ or _accidentally_. Things which are useful for the
attainment of that end _essentially_ lead us to it. But a thing may be
useful as regards that end which is the possession of God in two ways:
namely, _directly and principally_, that is, according to the merits by
which we merit the possession of God by obeying Him; and in accordance
with this runs the petition: _Thy Will be done on earth as it is in
Heaven_; also _instrumentally_ as assisting us to merit, whence the
petition: _Give us this day our daily bread_. And this is true whether
we understand by this "bread" that Sacramental Bread, the daily use of
Which profits man, and in Which are comprised all the other Sacraments;
or whether we understand it of material bread so that "bread" here means
all that is sufficient for the support of life--as S. Augustine explains
it to Proba. For both the Holy Eucharist is the chief of
Sacraments, and bread is the chief of foods, whence in the Gospel of S.
Matthew we have the term "super-substantial" or "special" applied to it,
as S. Jerome explains it.
And we are lead, as it were, _accidentally_ to the possession of God by
the removal of impediments from our path. Now there are three things
which impede us in our efforts after the possession of God. The first of
these is sin, which directly excludes us from the kingdom: _Neither
fornicators, nor idolaters, ... etc., shall possess the kingdom of
God_; hence the petition: _Forgive us our trespasses_.... And the
second impediment is temptation which hinders us from obeying the Divine
Will; whence the petition: _And lead us not into temptation_; in which
petition we do not pray that we may not be tempted, but that we may not
be overcome by temptation, for this is the meaning of being led into
temptation. And the third hindrance lies in our present penal state
which prevents us from having "the sufficiency of life"; and for this
reason we say: _Deliver us from evil_.
Some, however, argue that these seven petitions are not very
1. It seems idle to pray that that may be hallowed which is already
hallowed or holy. But the Name of God is holy: _And holy is His
Name_. Similarly, His kingdom is everlasting: _Thy kingdom_, O
Lord, _is a kingdom of all ages_. God's Will, too, is always
fulfilled: _And all My Will shall be done_. Hence it is idle to
pray that God's Name may be hallowed, that His kingdom may come, and
that His Will may be done.
But, as S. Augustine says, when we say, _Hallowed be Thy
Name_, we do not make this petition as though God's Name were
not holy, but that It may be held holy by men; in other words,
that God's glory may be propagated amongst men. And when we say,
_Thy kingdom come_, it is not as though we meant that God did
not reign, but, as S. Augustine says to Proba: "We stir up
our desires for that kingdom, that it may come upon us and that
we may reign in it." Lastly, when we say, _Thy Will be done_,
this is rightly understood to mean: May Thy precepts be obeyed
_on earth as in Heaven_--that is, as by Angels, so by men. These
three petitions, then, will receive their perfect fulfilment in
the life to come; but the remaining four, as S. Augustine says,
refer to the necessities of the present life.
2. But further, to depart from evil must precede the pursuit of what is
good. Hence it hardly seems appropriate to place those petitions which
are concerned with the pursuit of what is good before those which refer
to the departing from evil.
Yet since prayer is the interpreter of our desires the order of
these petitions does not correspond to the order of attainment
but of desire or intention; in this order, however, the end
precedes the means to the end, the pursuit of good comes before
the departure from evil.
3. But once more, we ask for something in order that it may be given us.
But the chief gift of God is the Holy Spirit and those things which are
given us through Him. Hence these petitions do not seem to be very
appropriate since they do not correspond to the Gifts of the Holy
S. Augustine, however, adapts these seven petitions to the
Gifts of the Holy Spirit and to the Beatitudes; he says: "If we
have the _fear of God_ by which the poor in spirit are blessed,
we pray that God's Name may be hallowed among men by chaste
fear. If we have _piety_, by which the meek are blessed, we pray
that His kingdom may come, that we may be meek, and that we may
not withstand It. If we have _knowledge_, by which they that
mourn are blessed, we pray that His will may be done, and that
so we may not mourn. If we have _fortitude_, by which they that
hunger are blessed, we pray that our daily bread may be given
us. If we have _counsel_, by which they that are merciful are
blessed, let us forgive our debtors that we ourselves may be
forgiven. If we have _understanding_, by which the clean of
heart are blessed, let us pray that we may not have a double
heart that pursues after temporal things whence temptations come
to us. If we have _wisdom_, whence the peace-makers are
blessed--for they shall be called the sons of God--let us pray
that we may be delivered from evil, for that very deliverance
will make us the free sons of God."
4. Again, according to S. Luke, there are only five petitions in
the Lord's Prayer. Hence it would seem superfluous to have seven in S.
But, as S. Augustine says: "S. Luke only includes five
petitions and not seven in the Lord's Prayer, for he shows that
the third petition is, in a sense, only a repetition of the two
preceding ones; by omitting it he makes us see that God's will
is more especially concerned with our knowledge of His sanctity
and with our reigning with Him. But Luke has omitted Matthew's
last petition, _Deliver us from evil_, in order to show us that
we are delivered from evil just precisely as we are not led into
5. And lastly, it seems idle to try to stir up the benevolence of one
who is beforehand with his benevolence. But God does forestall us with
His benevolence, for _He hath first loved us_. Consequently it
seems superfluous to preface our petitions with the words _Our Father
Who art in Heaven_, words which seem intended to stir up God's
But we must remember that prayer is not directed to God in order
to prevail upon Him, but in order to excite ourselves to
confidence in our petitions. And this confidence is especially
excited in us by consideration of His love towards us whereby He
wishes us well, wherefore we say, _Our Father_; and of His
pre-eminent power whereby He is able to assist us, whence we
say, _Who art in Heaven_.
* * * * *
_Cajetan:_ The first three petitions of the _Lord's Prayer_ can also be
referred to that which we principally desire, so that all three regard
mainly that love wherewith we love God in Himself, and secondarily that
love wherewith we love ourselves in God. And the proof of this is that
in each of the first three we have the pronoun _Thine_, but in the last
four the pronoun _our_. Thus the first petition asks for the effective
and enduring praise of God's Name; the second, that He--and not the
devil, nor the world, nor the flesh, nor sin--may reign effectively; the
third, that His Will may be effectively fulfilled. For these things are
not now absolutely so with God, and this by reason of the multitude of
sins, and also because the mode of their present fulfilment is hidden.
And the word _effectively_ is introduced into each clause by reason of
the subjoined qualification _on earth as it is in Heaven_, for this
qualifies each of the foregoing clauses. Hence rightly do our desires
first of all aim at, wish for, and pray that--even as something good for
God Himself--He may be sanctified in His Name; that He may be
permanently uplifted above all things--on earth as in Heaven; that
He--not sin--may reign--on earth as in Heaven; that His Will--none
other--may be done--on earth as in Heaven (_on_ 2. 2. 83. 9).
_S. Augustine:_ O Eternal Truth, True Love and lovable Eternity! Thou
art my God; for Thee do I sigh night and day! And when I first knew Thee
Thou didst snatch me up so that I saw that That really was Which I saw,
and that I who saw was really not--as yet. And Thou didst beat back my
weak gaze, pouring out Thy light upon me in its intensity; and I
trembled with love and with horror. For I found myself to be far away
from Thee in a land that was unlike Thee; it was as though I heard Thy
Voice from on high, saying: "I am the Food of grown men, grow, and thou
shalt eat Me, but thou shalt not be changed into Me" (_Confessions_,
VII. x. 2).
_S. Augustine:_ And the faithful are well aware of that Spiritual Food
Which you, too, will soon know and Which you are to receive from God's
altar. It will be your food, nay, your daily food, needful for this
life. For are we not about to receive the Eucharist wherein we come to
Christ Himself, and begin to reign with Him for ever? The Eucharist is
our daily Bread. But let us so receive it as to be thereby refreshed,
not in body merely but in mind. For the power which we know to be
therein is the power of Unity whereby we are brought into union with His
Body and become His members. Let us be What we receive; for then It will
be truly our daily bread.
Again, what I set before you is your daily bread; and what you hear read
day by day in the church is your daily bread; and the hymns you hear and
which you sing--they are your daily bread. For these things we need for
our pilgrimage. But when we get There are we going to hear a book read?
Nay, we are going to hear the Word Himself; we are going to see the Word
Himself; we are going to eat Him, to drink Him, even as the Angels do
already. Do the Angels need books, or disputations, or readers? Nay, not
so. But by seeing they read, for they see the Truth Itself and are sated
from that Fount whence we receive but the sprinkling of the dew
(_Sermon_, lvii., _on S. Matt._ vi. 7).
_S. Augustine:_ When ye say _Give us this day our daily bread_, ye
profess yourselves God's beggars. Yet blush not at it! The richest man
on earth is God's beggar. The beggar stands at the rich man's door. But
the rich man in his turn stands at the door of one richer than he. He is
begged from, and he, too, has to beg. If he were not in need he would
not beseech God in prayer. But what can the rich man need? I dare to say
it: he needs even his daily bread! For how is it that he abounds with
all things, save that God gave them to him? And what will they have if
God but withdraw His hand? (_Sermon_, lvi. 9, _on S. Matt._ vi.).
_S. Augustine:_ Think not that you have no need to say _Forgive us our
trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us_.... He who looks
with pleasure at what he should not--sins. Yet who can control the
glance of the eye? Indeed, some say that the eye is so called from its
swiftness (_oculus a velocitate_). Who can control his eyes or his ears?
You can close your eyes when you like, but how quickly they open again!
You can shut your ears with an effort; put up your hand, and you can
touch them. But if someone holds your hands your ears remain open, and
you cannot then shut out cursing words, impure words, flattering and
deceitful words. When you hear something which you should not--do you
not sin with your ears? What when you hear some evil thing with
pleasure? And the death-dealing tongue! How many sins it commits!
(_Sermon_, lvi. 8).
_S. Augustine:_ Indeed, our whole righteousness--true righteousness
though it be, by reason of the True Good to Whom it is referred,
consists rather, as long as we are in this life, in the remission of our
sins than in the perfection of our virtues. And the proof of this is the
Prayer of the whole City of God which is in pilgrimage on this earth.
For by all Its members It cries to God: _Forgive us our trespasses as we
forgive them the trespass against us_! And this Prayer is of no avail
for those whose faith is without works--dead; but only for those whose
faith worketh through charity. For though our reason is indeed subject
to God, yet in this our mortal condition, in this corruptible body which
weigheth down the soul, our reason does not perfectly control our vices,
and hence such prayer as this is needful for the righteous (_Of the City
of God_, xix. 27).
"Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may
glorify Thee. As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that
He may give life everlasting to all whom Thou hast given Him.
And this is life everlasting, that they may know Thee, the only
true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent."
Rhythm in Honour of the Blessed Sacrament, said to have been composed by
S. Thomas on his Death-Bed.
Adoro Te devote, latens Deitas,
Quæ sub his figuris vere latitas;
Tibi se cor meum totum subjicit,
Quia Te contemplans totum deficit.
Visus, tactus gustus, in Te fallitur,
Sed auditu solo tuto creditur;
Credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius,
Nil hoc verbo veritatis verius.
In cruce latebat sola Deitas,
At hic latet simul et humanitas;
Ambo tamen credens atque confitens,
Peto quod petivit latro poenitens.
Plagas, sicut Thomas, non intueor,
Deum tamen meum Te confiteor;
Fac me Tibi semper magis credere,
In Te spem habere, Te diligere.
O memoriale mortis Domini,
Panis vivus, vitam præstans homini,
Præsta meæ menti de Te vivero,
Et Te illi semper dulce sapere.
Pie Pellicane Jesu Domine,
Me immundum munda Tuo Sanguine,
Cujus una stilla salvum facere
Totum mundum quit ab omni scelere.
Jesu Quem velatum nunc aspicio,
Oro fiat illud quod tam sitio,
Ut Te revelata cernens facie,
Visu sim beatus Tuæ gloriæ!
(An Indulgence of 100 days for the recitation of this rhythm. _S. Congr.
of Indulgences_, December 20, 1884.)
Is Prayer Peculiar to Rational Creatures?
Prayer is an act of the reason, as we have shown above. And rational
creatures are so termed because of the possession of reason.
Consequently prayer is peculiar to them.
As we have said above, prayer is an act of the reason by which a person
pleads with his superior, just in the same way as a command is an act of
the reason by which an inferior is directed to do something. Prayer,
then, properly pertains to one who has the use of reason and who also
has a superior with whom he can plead. The Persons of the Trinity have
no superior; the brute animals have no reason. Hence prayer belongs
neither to the Divine Persons nor to the brute creation, but is peculiar
to rational creatures.
Some, however, argue that prayer cannot be peculiar to rational
1. To ask and to receive belong to the same person. But the Divine
Persons receive: the Son, namely, and the Holy Spirit. Consequently They
can also pray; indeed it is the Son Himself Who says, _I will ask the
Father_, and the Apostle says of the Holy Spirit, _The Spirit
Himself asketh for us_.
But it belongs to the Divine Persons to receive by Their nature,
whereas to pray belongs to one who receives through grace. The
Son is said to ask or pray according to the nature He took upon
Himself--that is according to His Human, and not according to
His Divine, Nature; the Holy Spirit, too, is said to petition
because He makes us petition.
2. But further, the Angels are superior to the rational creation since
they are intellectual substances; but it belongs to the Angels to pray,
for it is said in the Psalm: _Adore Him, all ye His Angels_.
But the intellect and the reason are not different faculties in
us, though they do differ in the sense that one is more perfect
than the other. Consequently the intellectual creation, such as
are the Angels, is sometimes distinguished from the rational
creation, but at other times both are embraced under the one
term "rational." And it is in this latter sense of the term
"rational" that prayer is said to be peculiar to the rational
3. Lastly, he prays who calls upon God; for it is chiefly by prayer that
we call upon God. But the brute animals also call upon God, for the
Psalmist says: _Who giveth to beasts their food, and to the young ravens
that call upon Him._
But the young ravens are said to call upon God by reason of
those natural desires by which all things, each in their own
fashion, desire to obtain the Divine goodness. In the same way
brute animals are said to obey God by reason of the natural
instinct by which they are moved by God.
"Reward them that patiently wait for Thee, that Thy Prophets may
be found faithful: and hear the prayers of Thy servants.
According to the blessing of Aaron over Thy people, and direct
us into the way of justice, and let all know that dwell upon the
earth, that Thou art God the beholder of all ages."
Do the Saints in Heaven Pray for Us?
_This is he who prayeth much for the people and for all the holy city,
Jeremias the Prophet of God._
As S. Jerome says, Vigilantius's error lay in maintaining that
"while we live we can mutually pray for one another; but after we are
dead no one's prayer for another is heard, and this is especially clear
in the case of the Martyrs who were unable to obtain by their prayers
vengeance for their blood."
But this is altogether false; for since prayer for others springs from
charity, the more perfect the charity of those who are in Heaven the
more they pray for those wayfarers on earth who can be helped by their
prayers. And the more knit they are to God the more efficacious are
their prayers; for the Divine harmony demands that the superabundance of
those who are in the higher position should redound upon those who are
lower, just as the brightness of the sun renders the atmosphere itself
luminous. Whence Christ Himself is said to be _Approaching of Himself to
God to intercede for us_. Whence, too, S. Jerome's reply to
Vigilantius: "If the Apostles and Martyrs, when they were still in the
body, and had still to be solicitous on their own account, prayed for
others, how much more when they have won the crown, when they have
gained the victory and the triumph?"
Yet some maintain that the Blessed in Heaven do not pray for us, thus:
1. A man's acts are more meritorious for himself than for another. But
the Saints who are in Heaven neither merit for themselves nor pray for
themselves, for they have already attained the goal of their desires.
Hence neither do they pray for us.
But the Saints who are in our Fatherland lack no
Blessedness--since they are Blessed--save the glory of the body,
and for this they pray. But they pray for us who still lack the
ultimate perfection of Blessedness; and their prayers are
efficacious by reason of their previous merits and of the Divine
acceptation of their prayers.
2. But once more: the Saints are perfectly conformed to the Will of God,
and consequently will nothing but what He wills. But what God wills is
always fulfilled. Hence it is idle for the Saints to pray for us.
But the Saints obtain that which God wills should come about
through the medium of their prayers; and they ask for what they
think is, by God's Will, to be fulfilled through their prayers.
3. And yet again: just as the Saints in Heaven are superior to us so
also are they who are in Purgatory--for they cannot sin. Those, however,
who are in Purgatory do not pray for us, but rather we for them. It
follows, then, that neither can the Saints in Heaven pray for us.
But though those who are in Purgatory are superior to us in that
they cannot sin, yet are they our inferiors as regards the
penalties they suffer; hence they are not in a state to pray for
us, but rather we for them.
4. Once more: if the Saints in Heaven could pray for us it would follow
that the prayers of the holiest Saints would be the most efficacious,
and that consequently we ought not to ask the inferior Saints to pray
for us, but only the greatest ones.
But God desires inferior things to be helped by all that are
superior, and consequently we have to implore the aid of not
only the chief Saints but also of the lesser; else it would
follow that we ought to implore mercy from God alone. And it may
sometimes happen that the petition made to a lesser Saint is
more efficacious, either because we ask him more devoutly, or
because God wishes thus to show forth his sanctity.
5. Lastly, Peter's soul is not Peter. Consequently if the souls of the
Saints could pray for us, we ought--as long as their souls are separated
from their bodies--to appeal, not to Peter to help us, but to Peter's
soul; whereas the Church does the contrary. From which it would seem
that the Saints, at all events previous to the Resurrection, do not pray
But since the Saints merited when alive that they should pray
for us, we therefore call upon them by the names they bore when
here below, and by which they are best known to us; and we do
this, too, in order to show our faith in the Resurrection, in
accordance with the words _I am the God of Abraham_.
* * * * *
_Cajetan:_ The question arises: how could Jeremias, who in the days of
the Maccabees was not yet in our Fatherland but still in the Limbo of
the Fathers, pray for Jerusalem?
But if we carefully consider what it is at root which makes the prayers
of the Saints in the Fatherland avail for us, we shall find that the
same reason holds for the Saints who were in Limbo as for those who
enjoy the Beatific Vision. For it is their charity in their state of
absolute superiority to us which is the reason for their praying for us.
Hence, in the reply to the third difficulty, those who are in Purgatory
are excluded from the number of those who pray for us because they are
not altogether our superiors, but by reason of their sufferings are
inferior to us, and need our prayers.
But the Fathers in Limbo were, it is clear, confirmed in charity and
were incapable of sin, neither were they liable to any peculiar or fresh
suffering. For while the pain of loss was common to them and to the
sojourners on earth, the former were free from all pain of sense, hence
they could pray for us. There is, however, this difference to be noted
between them and the Saints in the Fatherland--viz., that whereas the
former had it in common with the latter to pray for those sojourning on
earth, it is given only to the Saints in the Fatherland to see the
prayers of us sojourners addressed to them. Hence Jeremias is here said
to pray, he is not said to have heard their prayers or supplications
(_on_ 2. 2. 83. 11).
Should Prayer be Vocal?
_I cried to the Lord with my voice, with my voice I made supplication to
Prayer is of two kinds: public and private. _Public_ or common prayer is
that which is offered to God by the Church's ministers in the person of
the whole body of the faithful. And it is necessary that such prayer
should be known to the body of the faithful for whom it is offered;
this, however, could not be unless it were vocal; consequently it is
reasonably enacted that the Church's ministers should pronounce such
prayers in a loud voice so as to reach the ears of all.
_Private_ prayer, on the contrary, is that which is offered by private
individuals, whether for themselves or for others; and its nature does
not demand that it should be vocal. At the same time, we can use our
voices in this kind of prayer, and this for three reasons: Firstly, in
order to excite interior devotion whereby our minds may, when we pray,
be lifted up to God; for men's minds are moved by external
signs--whether words or acts--to understand, and, by consequence, also
to feel. Wherefore S. Augustine says to Proba: "By words and other
signs we vehemently stir ourselves up so as to increase our holy
desires." Hence in private prayer we must make such use of words and
other signs as shall avail to rouse our minds interiorly. But if, on the
other hand, such things only serve to distract the mind, or prove in any
way a hindrance, then we must cease from them; this is especially the
case with those whose minds are sufficiently prepared for devotion
without such incentives. Thus the Psalmist says: _My heart hath said to
Thee, My face hath sought Thee;_ and of Anna we are told that _she
spoke within her heart_.
And secondly, we make use of vocal prayer in payment, as it were, of a
just debt--in order, that is, to serve God with the entirety of what we
have received from Him; consequently not with our mind alone but with
our body as well; and this, as the Prophet Osee says, is especially
suitable to prayer considered as a satisfaction for our sins: _Take away
all iniquity and receive the good, and we will render the calves of our
And thirdly, we sometimes make use of vocal prayer because the soul
overflows, as it were, on to the body by reason of the vehemence of our
feelings, as it is written: _My heart hath been glad, and my tongue hath
But it seems to some that prayer should not be vocal, thus:
1. Prayer is, as we have said, principally directed to God, and God
knows the heart's speech. Consequently to add vocal prayer is idle.
But vocal prayer is not employed in order to manifest to God
something which He did not know, but to stir up the mind of him
who prays, and of others, too, towards God.
2. Again, man's mind is meant to rise by prayer towards God; but words,
and other things pertaining to the senses, keep back a man from the
ascent of contemplation.
Words appertaining to other things than God do indeed distract
the mind and hinder the devotion of him who prays; but
devotional words stir up the mind, especially if it be less
3. Lastly, prayer ought to be offered to God in secret, according to the
words: _But thou when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and
having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret_; whereas to
pray vocally means to publish it abroad.
But, as S. Chrysostom says: "The Lord forbade us to pray in
public with a view to being seen by the public. Consequently,
when we pray we should do nothing novel to attract men's
attention, whether by uttering cries which may be heard by them,
or by openly beating our breasts, or by spreading out our hands,
for the crowd to see us." While, on the other hand, as S.
Augustine remarks: "To be seen by men is not wrong, but to
do things to be seen by men."
* * * * *
_Cajetan:_ Note carefully, ye who murmur at the Church's services, these
three points: the different kinds of vocal prayer, its necessity, and
the conditions attaching to it. For vocal prayer is divided into that
which is in common and that which is private or individual.
The general necessity of vocal prayer arises from the fact that it is
offered in the person of the Church. For since the Church is composed of
created beings dependent on the senses, prayer made through the medium
of the senses--_i.e._, vocal prayer--must needs be offered by its
ministers; else we should not know whether the worship of prayer was
being offered by God's ministers, nor should we be conscious of the gift
to God which was being offered by them in prayer; for the Church only
judges from the things that appear externally.
Our individual need of vocal prayer arises from the necessity of
stirring up our own devotion, and preserving it.
The conditions of prayer in common are twofold: it must be vocal, and it
must be out loud. Hence those who say private Masses in such a low
tone--and that consciously--as to be unintelligible to their hearers,
appear to act unreasonably and are inexcusable, unless it should happen
by accident that no one is present; in this case it is sufficient if
they can be heard by the server who is close at hand. This will also
show us what use we are to make of chant, or of recitation without
chant, in prayer in common: it must be governed by our common devotion.
And in whatever fashion such prayer may be made this rule must always be
observed: it must be said so intelligibly that the meaning of the words
may be distinctly perceived both by the reciters and by others, that so
the Church's devotion may be aroused.
And reason tells us what conditions attach to our private prayer: viz.,
our own private devotion. This shews, too, the error of those who, in
order to complete the tale of a large number of private vocal prayers
each day, lay aside meditation and mental prayer. They neglect the end
for the means (_on_ 2. 2. 83. 12).
_S. Augustine:_ Oh! How I lifted up my voice to Thee, O Lord, when I
sang the Psalms of David, those songs full of faith, those strains full
of piety which soothed my swelling spirit! And I was then but
uninstructed in Thy true love; a catechumen spending my leisure with
Alypius, another catechumen. And my mother stayed with us: clad indeed
in woman's garb, but with a man's faith, with a matron's calm, with a
mother's love, with a Christian's piety. Oh! How I lifted up my voice in
those Psalms! How they inflamed my heart! How I yearned to recite them,
if I could, to the whole world--as an answer to the pride of the human
race! Though, indeed, they are sung throughout the world, and none can
hide himself from Thy heat! (_Confess._, IX. iv. 8).
_S. Augustine:_ Sometimes, indeed, through immoderate fear of this
mistake I err by excessive severity; nay, sometimes, though it is but
rarely, I could almost wish to shut out from my ears and even from the
Church itself all those sweet-sounding melodies used in the
accompaniment of David's Psalms. Sometimes it seems to me as though it
would be safer to do as I have often heard that Athanasius, the Bishop
of Alexandria, did, for he made the reader of the Psalms so modulate his
voice that he came to be rather speaking than singing. Yet, on the other
hand, when I remember the tears which I shed when I heard the Church's
chant in the early days of my regaining the faith, and when I notice
that even now I am stirred--not so much by the chant as by the things
that are chanted--when, that is, they are chanted with clear intonation
and suitable modulation, then once more I recognize the great value of
this appointed fashion (_Confess._, X. xxxiii. 50).
_S. Augustine: I have cried with my whole heart, hear me, O Lord!_
Who can question but that when men pray their cry to the Lord is vain if
it be nought but the sound of the corporeal voice and their heart be not
intent upon God? But if their prayer come from the heart, then, even
though the voice of the body be silent, it may be hidden from all men,
yet not from God. Whether, then, we pray to God with our voice--at times
when such prayer is necessary--or whether we pray in silence, it is our
heart that must send forth the cry. But the heart's cry is the earnest
application of our minds. And when this accompanies our prayer it
expresses the deep affections of him who yearns and asks and so despairs
not of his request. And further, a man cries _with his whole heart_ when
he has no other thought. Such prayers with many are rare; with few are
they frequent; I know not whether anyone's prayers are always so
(_Enarr. in Ps._ cxviii., _Sermon_, xxix. 1).
"Incline Thy ear, O Lord, and hear me; for I am needy and poor.
Preserve my soul, for I am holy: save Thy servant, O my God,
that trusteth in Thee. Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I have
cried to Thee all the day. Give joy to the soul of Thy servant,
for to Thee, O Lord, I have lifted up my soul. For Thou, O Lord,
art sweet and mild; and plenteous in mercy to all that call upon
Must Prayer necessarily be Attentive?
That even holy men sometimes suffer distraction of mind when at prayer
is clear from the words: _My heart hath forsaken me!_
This question particularly concerns vocal prayer. And for its solution
we must know that a thing is said to be necessary in two senses:
firstly, in the sense that by it a certain end is _more readily_
attained, and in this sense attention is absolutely requisite in prayer.
But a thing is said to be necessary also because without it a certain
thing cannot attain its object _at all_. Now the effect or object of
prayer is threefold. Its first effect--an effect, indeed, which is
common to all acts springing from charity--is _merit_; but to secure
this effect it is not necessarily required that attention should be kept
up throughout the prayer, but the initial intention with which a man
comes to prayer renders the whole prayer meritorious, as, indeed, is the
case in all other meritorious acts.
The second effect of prayer is peculiar to it, and that is to _obtain
favours_; and for this, too, the primary intention suffices, and to it
God principally looks. But if the primary intention is wanting, prayer
is not meritorious, neither can it win favours; for, as S. Gregory says,
God hears not the prayer of a man who when he prays does not give heed
The third effect of prayer is that which it immediately and actually
brings about, namely, the _spiritual refreshment of the soul_; and to
attain this end attention is necessarily required in prayer. Whence it
is said, _If I pray in a tongue my understanding is without fruit_.
At the same time, we must remember that there is a threefold species of
attention which may find place in our vocal prayer: one by which a man
attends to the words he recites, and is careful to make no mistake in
them; another by which he attends to the meaning of the words; and a
third by which he attends to the end of all prayer--namely, God
Himself--and to the object for which he is praying. And this species of
attention is the most necessary of all, and one which even uninstructed
folk can have; sometimes, indeed, the intensity with which the mind is
borne towards God is, as says Hugh of S. Victor, so overwhelming that
the mind is oblivious of all else.
Some, however, argue that prayer must of necessity be attentive, thus:
1. It is said in S. John's Gospel: _God is a spirit, and they that
adore Him must adore Him in spirit and truth_. But inattentive prayer is
not _in spirit_.
But he prays _in spirit and in truth_ who comes to pray moved by
the impulse of the Spirit, even though, owing to human
infirmity, his mind afterwards wanders.
2. But again, prayer is "the ascent of the mind towards God." But when
prayer is inattentive the mind does not ascend towards God.
But the human mind cannot, owing to Nature's weakness, long
remain on high, for the soul is dragged down to lower things by
the weight of human infirmity; and hence it happens that when
the mind of one who prays ascends towards God in contemplation
it suddenly wanders away from Him owing to his infirmity.
3. Lastly, prayer must needs be without sin. But not without sin does a
man suffer distraction of mind when he prays, for he seems to mock God,
just as if one were to speak with his fellow-man and not attend to what
he said. Consequently S. Basil says: "The Divine assistance is to
be implored, not remissly, nor with a mind that wanders here and there;
for such a one not only will not obtain what he asks, but will rather be
Of course, if a man purposely allowed his mind to wander in
prayer, he would commit a sin and hinder the fruit of his
prayer. Against such S. Augustine says in his _Rule_: "When
you pray to God in Psalms and hymns, entertain your heart with
what your lips are reciting." But that distraction of mind which
is unintentional does not destroy the fruit of prayer.
Hence S. Basil also says: "But if through the weakness of sinful
nature you cannot pray with attention, restrain your imagination
as far as you can, and God will pardon you, inasmuch as it is
not from negligence but from weakness that you are unable to
occupy yourself with Him as you should."
* * * * *
_Cajetan:_ Does a man satisfy the precept of the Church if, being bound
to the recitation of the Divine Office, he sets out with the intention
of meditating upon the Divine Goodness or upon the Passion of Christ,
and thus keeping his mind firmly fixed upon God? Clearly a man who
strives to keep his mind occupied during the whole of the Divine Office
with contemplation of and devout affections towards God and Divine
things fully satisfies his obligation. So, too, a man who aims at
meditation on the Passion of Christ and devout affections on it during
the whole Office, undoubtedly satisfies his obligation, for he is making
use of a better means for keeping in touch with the Divinity than if he
merely dwelt upon the meaning of the words. At the same time, he must be
ready to lay this aside if in the course of the Office he finds himself
uplifted to Divine things, for at this he must primarily aim. One who so
prays, then, must make the Passion of Christ a means and not an end; he
must, that is, be prepared to ascend thereby, if God grants it, to
Divine things. In short, we may make use of any one of the species of
attention enumerated above provided we do not exclude the higher forms.
Thus, for example, if a man feels that it is more suited to his small
capacity to aim simply at making no mistakes, and habitually makes use
of this form of attention, he must still use it as a means only; he
must, that is, be at God's disposition, for God may have mercy upon him
and grant him, by reason of his dispositions, some better form of
Again, when a person prays for things needful for his support in life he
must not be so occupied with the thought of these things as to appear to
subordinate Divine things to human, as though prayer was but a means and
his daily living the end. We must bear in mind the doctrine laid down
above--viz., that _all our prayers should tend to the attainment of
grace and glory_. We must occupy ourselves with the thought of eternal
glory, or of the glory of the adoption of sons during this life, or with
the virtues as means to arriving at our eternal home, and as the
adornment of the inhabitants of heaven, and the commencement here of
heavenly "conversation"; such things as these must be counted as the
highest forms of attention (_on_ 2. 2. 83. 13).
_S. Augustine: Give joy to the soul of Thy servant, for to Thee, O Lord,
I have lifted up my soul. For Thou, O Lord, art sweet and mild._ It
seems to me that he calls God "mild" because He endures all our
vagaries, and only awaits our prayers that He may perfect us. And when
we offer Him our prayers He accepts them gratefully and hears them.
Neither does He reflect on the careless way in which we pour them out,
He even accepts prayers of which we are hardly conscious! For, Brethren,
what man is there who would put up with it if a friend of his began a
conversation with him, and yet, just when he was ready to reply to what
his friend said, should discover that he was paying no attention to him
but was saying something to someone else? Or supposing you were to
appeal to a judge and were to appoint a place for him to hear your
appeal, and then suddenly, while you were talking with him, were to put
him aside and begin to gossip with a friend! How long would he put up
with you? And yet God puts up with the hearts of so many who pray to Him
and who yet are thinking of other things, even evil things, even wicked
things, things hateful to God; for even to think of unnecessary things
is an insult to Him with Whom you have begun to talk. For your prayer is
a conversation with God. When you read, God speaks to you; when you
pray, you speak to God.... And you may picture God saying to you: "You
forget how often you have stood before Me and have thought of such idle
and superfluous things and have so rarely poured out to Me an attentive
and definite prayer!" But _Thou, O Lord, art sweet and mild_! Thou art
sweet, bearing with me! It is from weakness that I slip away! Heal me
and I shall stand; strengthen me and I shall be firm! But until Thou
dost so, bear with me, for _Thou, O Lord, art sweet and mild_ (_Enarr.
in Ps._ lxxxv. 7).
_S. Augustine: Praise the Lord, O my soul!_ What mean these words,
Brethren? Do we not praise the Lord? Do we not sing hymns day by day? Do
not our mouths, each according to their measure, sound forth day by day
the praises of God? And what is it we praise? It is a great Thing that
we praise, but that wherewith we praise is weak as yet. When does the
singer fill up the praises of Him Whom he sings? A man stands and sings
before God, often for a long space; but oftentimes, whilst his lips move
to frame the words of his song, his thoughts fly away to I know not what
desires! And so, too, our mind has sometimes been fixed on praising God
in a definite manner, but our soul has flitted away, led hither and
thither by divers desires and anxious cares. And then our mind, as
though from up above, has looked down upon the soul as it flitted to and
fro, and has seemed to turn to it and address its uneasy
wanderings--saying to it: _Praise the Lord, O my soul!_ Why art thou
anxious about other things than Him? Why busy thyself with the mortal
things of earth? And then our soul, as though weighed down and unable to
stand firm as it should, replies to our mind: _I will praise the Lord in
my life!_ Why does it say _in my life_? Why? Because now I am in my
Rouse yourself, then, and say: _Praise the Lord, O my soul!_ And your
soul will reply to you: "I praise Him as much as I can, though it is but
weakly, in small measure, and with little strength." But why so? Because
_while we are in the body we are absent from the Lord_. And why do
you thus praise the Lord so imperfectly and with so little fixity of
attention? Ask Holy Scripture: _The corruptible body weigheth down the
soul, and the earthly_ _habitation presseth down the mind that museth
upon many things._ O take away, then, my body which weigheth down
the soul, and then will I praise the Lord! Take away my earthly
habitation which presseth down the mind that museth upon many things, so
that, instead of many things I may be occupied with One Thing alone, and
may praise the Lord! But as long as I am as I am, I cannot, for I am
weighed down! What then? Wilt thou be silent? Wilt thou never perfectly
praise the Lord? _I will praise the Lord in my life!_ (_Enarr in Ps._
"My spirit is in anguish within me; my heart within me is
troubled. I remembered the days of old, I meditated on all Thy
works; I meditated upon the works of Thy hands. I stretched
forth my hands to Thee; my soul is as earth without water unto
Thee. Hear me speedily, O Lord: my spirit hath fainted
_S. Thomas:_ The fruits of prayer are twofold. For first there is the
merit which thereby accrues to a man; and, secondly, there is the
spiritual consolation and devotion which is begotten of prayer. And he
who does not attend to, or does not understand his prayer, loses that
fruit which is spiritual consolation; but we cannot say that he loses
that fruit which is merit, for then we should have to say that very many
prayers were without merit since a man can hardly say the _Lord's
Prayer_ without some distraction of mind. Hence we must rather say that
when a person is praying and is sometimes distracted from what he is
saying, or--more generally--when a person is occupied with some
meritorious work and does not continuously and at every moment reflect
that he is doing it for God, his work does not cease to be meritorious.
And the reason is that in meritorious acts directed to a right end it is
not requisite that our intention should be referred to that end at every
moment, but the influence of the intention with which we begun persists
throughout even though we now and again be distracted in some particular
point; and the influence of this initial intention renders the whole
body of what we do meritorious unless it be broken off by reason of some
contrary affection intruding itself and diverting us from the end we had
first in view to some other end contrary to it.
And it must be remembered that there are three kinds of attention. The
first is attention to the words we are actually saying; and sometimes
this is harmful, for it may hinder devotion. The second is attention to
the meaning of the words, and this, too, may be harmful, though not
gravely so. The third is attention to the goal of our prayer, and this
better and almost necessary (_Commentary on 1 Cor._ xiv. 14).
Should our Prayers be Long?
It would seem that we ought to pray continuously, for our Lord said: _We
ought always to pray and not to faint;_ so also S. Paul: _Pray
But we must notice that when we speak of prayer we can mean either
prayer _considered in itself_ or the _cause of prayer_. Now the _cause
of prayer_ is the desire of the love of God; and all prayer ought to
spring from this desire which is, indeed, continuous in us, whether
actually or virtually, since this desire virtually remains in everything
which we do from charity. But we ought to do all things for the glory of
God: _whether you eat or whether you drink, or whatsoever else you do,
do all to the glory of God_. In this sense, then, prayer ought to
be continual. Hence S. Augustine says to Proba: "Therefore by our faith,
by our hope, and by our charity, we are always praying, for our desire
But _prayer considered in itself_ cannot be so continuous; for we must
needs be occupied with other things. Hence S. Augustine says in the same
place: "At certain intervals, at divers hours and times, we pray to God
in words so that by these outward signs of things we may admonish
ourselves, and may learn what progress we have made in this same desire,
and may stir ourselves up to increase it."
But the quantity of a thing has to be determined by its purpose, just as
a draught has to be proportioned to the health of the man who takes it.
Consequently it is fitting that prayer should only last so long as it
avails to stir up in us this fervour of interior desire. And when it
exceeds this measure, and its prolongation only results in weariness, it
must not be prolonged further. Hence S. Augustine also says to Proba:
"The Brethren in Egypt are said to have had frequent prayers; but they
were exceedingly brief, hardly more than eager ejaculations; and they
adopted this method lest, if they prolonged their prayer, that vigilant
attention which is requisite for prayer should lose its keen edge and
become dulled. And thus they clearly show that this same attention, just
as it is not to be forced if it fails to last, so neither is it to be
quickly broken off if it does last."
And just as we have to pay attention to this in our private prayers, and
have to be guided by our powers of attention, so must we observe the
same principles in public prayer where we have to be governed by the
Some, however, argue that our prayers ought not to be continual, thus:
1. Our Lord said: _And when you are praying speak not much_. But it
is not easy to see how a man can pray long without "speaking much"; more
especially if it is a question of vocal prayer.
But S. Augustine says to Proba: "To prolong our prayer does not
involve 'much-speaking.' 'Much-speaking' is one thing; the
unceasing desire of the heart is another. Indeed we are told of
the Lord Himself that _He passed the whole night in the prayer
of God_; and, again, that _being in an agony He prayed the
longer_, and this that He might afford us an example." And
Augustine adds a little later: "Much speaking in prayer is to be
avoided, but not much petition, if fervent attention lasts. For
'much-speaking' in prayer means the use of superfluous words
when we pray for something necessary; but much petition means
that with unceasing and devout stirrings of the heart we knock
at His door to Whom we pray; and this is often a matter rather
of groans than of words, of weeping than of speaking."
2. Further, prayer is but the unfolding of our desires. But our desires
are holy in proportion as they are confined to one thing, in accordance
with those words of the Psalmist: _One thing I have asked of the
Lord, this will I seek after._ Whence it would seem to follow that our
prayers are acceptable to God just in proportion to their brevity.
But to prolong our prayer does not mean that we ask for many
things, but that our hearts are continuously set upon one object
for which we yearn.
3. Once more, it is unlawful for a man to transgress the limits which
God Himself has fixed, especially in matters which touch the Divine
worship, according to the words: _Charge the people lest they should
have a mind to pass the limits to see the Lord, and a very great
multitude of them should perish_. But God Himself has assigned
limits to our prayer by instituting the _Lord's Prayer_, as is evident
from the words: _Thus shalt thou pray_. Hence we ought not to
extend our prayer beyond these limits.
But our Lord did not institute this prayer with a view to tying
us down exclusively to these words when we pray, but to show us
that the scope of our prayer should be limited to asking only
for the things contained in it, whatever form of words we may
use or whatever may be our thoughts.
4. And lastly, with regard to the words of our Lord _that we ought
always to pray and not to faint_, and those of S. Paul, _Pray
without ceasing_, we must remark that a man prays without ceasing,
either because of the unceasing nature of his desire, as we have above
explained; or because he does not fail to pray at the appointed times;
or because of the effect which his prayer has, whether upon
himself--since even when he has finished praying he still remains
devout--or upon others, as, for instance, when a man by some kind action
induces another to pray for him whereas he himself desists from his
"Our soul waiteth for the Lord; for He is our helper and
protector. For in Him our hearts shall rejoice; and in His Holy
Name we have trusted. Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, as we
have hoped in Thee."
Is Prayer Meritorious?
On the words of the Psalmist, _My prayer shall be turned into my
bosom_, the interlinear Gloss has: "And if it is of no profit to
them (for whom it is offered), at least I myself shall not lose my
reward." A reward, however, can only be due to merit. Prayer, then, is
* * * * *
As we have said above, prayer has, besides the effect of spiritual
consolation which it brings with it, a twofold power regarding the
future: the power, namely, of meriting, and that of winning favours. But
prayer, as indeed every other virtuous act, derives its power of
meriting from that root which is charity, and the true and proper object
of charity is that Eternal Good, the enjoyment of Which we merit. Now
prayer proceeds from charity by means of the virtue of religion whose
proper act is prayer; there accompany it, however, certain other virtues
which are requisite for a good prayer--namely, faith and humility. For
it belongs to the virtue of religion to offer our prayers to God; while
to charity belongs the desire of that the attainment of which we seek in
prayer. And faith is necessary as regards God to Whom we pray; for we
must, of course, believe that from Him we can obtain what we ask.
Humility, too, is called for on the part of the petitioner, for he must
acknowledge his own needs. And devotion also is necessary; though this
comes under religion of which it is the first act, it conditions all
And its power of obtaining favours prayer owes to the grace of God to
Whom we pray, and Who, indeed, induces us to pray. Hence S. Augustine
says: "He would not urge us to ask unless He were ready to give";
and S. Chrysostom says: "He never refuses His mercies to them who pray,
since it is He Who in His loving-kindness stirs them up so that they
weary not in prayer."
* * * * *
But some say that prayer cannot be meritorious, thus:
1. Merit proceeds from grace, but prayer precedes grace, since it is
precisely by prayer that we win grace: _Your Father from Heaven will
give the Good Spirit to them that ask Him_.
But prayer, like any other virtuous act, cannot be meritorious
without that grace which makes us pleasing to God. Yet even that
prayer which wins for us the grace which renders us pleasing to
God must proceed from some grace--that is, from some gratuitous
gift; for, as S. Augustine says, to pray at all is a gift of
2. Again, prayer cannot be meritorious, for if it were so it would seem
natural that prayer should especially merit that for which we actually
pray. Yet this is not always the case, for even the prayers of the
Saints are often not heard; S. Paul, for example, was not heard when he
prayed that the sting of the flesh might be taken away from him.
But we must notice that the merit of our prayers sometimes lies
in something quite different from what we beg for. For whereas
merit is to be especially referred to the possession of God, our
petitions in our prayers at times refer directly to other
things, as we have pointed out above. Consequently, if what a
man asks for will not tend to his ultimate attainment of God, he
does not merit it by his prayer; sometimes, indeed, by asking
and desiring such a thing he may lose all merit, as, for
example, if a man were to ask of God something which was sinful
and which he could not reverently ask for. Sometimes, however,
what he asks for is not necessary for his salvation, nor yet is
it clearly opposed to his salvation; and when a man so prays he
may by his prayer merit eternal life, but he does not merit to
obtain what he actually asks for. Hence S. Augustine says:
"He who asks of God in faith things needful for this life is
sometimes mercifully heard and sometimes mercifully not heard.
For the physician knows better than the patient what will avail
for the sick man." It was for this reason that Paul was not
heard when he asked that the sting of the flesh might be taken
away--it was not expedient. But if what a man asks for will help
him to the attainment of God, as being something conducive to
his salvation, he will merit it, and that not only by praying
for it but also by doing other good works; hence, too, he
undoubtedly will obtain what he asks for, but when it is fitting
that he should obtain it: "for some things are not refused to us
but are deferred, to be given at a fitting time," as S.
Augustine says. Yet even here hindrance may arise if a man
does not persevere in asking; hence S. Basil says: "When
then you ask and do not receive, this is either because you
asked for what you ought not, or because you asked without
lively faith, or carelessly, or for what would not profit you,
or because you ceased to ask." And since a man cannot,
absolutely speaking, merit eternal life for another, nor, in
consequence, those things which belong to eternal life, it
follows that a man is not always heard when he prays for
another. For a man, then, always to obtain what he asks, four
conditions must concur: he must ask for himself, for things
necessary for salvation; he must ask piously and perseveringly.
3. Lastly, prayer essentially reposes upon faith, as S. James says: _But
let him ask in faith, nothing wavering_. But faith is not
sufficient for merit, as is evident in the case of those who have faith
without charity. Therefore prayer is not meritorious.
But while it is true that prayer rests principally upon faith,
this is not for its power of meriting--for as regards this it
rests principally on charity--but for its power of winning
favours; for through faith man knows of the Divine Omnipotence
and Mercy whence prayer obtains what it asks.
* * * * *
_S. Augustine:_ Men, then, love different things, and when each one
seemeth to have what he loves, he is called happy. But a man is truly
happy, not if he has what he loves, but if he loves what ought to be
loved. For many become more wretched through having what they love than
they were when they lacked it. Miserable enough through loving harmful
things, more miserable through having them. And our Merciful God, when
we love amiss, denies us what we love; but sometimes in His anger He
grants a man what he loves amiss!... But when we love what God wishes us
to love, then, doubtless, He will give it us. This is That One Thing
Which ought to be loved: that we may dwell in the House of the Lord all
the days of our life! (_Enarr. in Ps._ xxvi.).
_S. Augustine:_ In those tribulations, then, which can both profit us
and harm us, we know not what we should pray for as we ought. Yet none
the less since they are hard, since they are vexatious, since, too, they
are opposed to our sense of our own weakness, mankind with one consent
prays that they may be removed from us. But we owe this much devotion to
the Lord our God that, if He refuses to remove them, we should not
therefore fancy that we are neglected by Him, but, while bearing these
woes with devout patience, we should hope for some greater good, for
thus is power perfected in infirmity. Yet to some in their impatience
the Lord God grants in anger what they ask, just as in His mercy He
refused it to the Apostle (_Ep._ cxxx. _ad Probam_).
"Hear my prayer, O Lord, and my supplication; give ear to my
tears. Be not silent: for I am a stranger with Thee, and a
sojourner as all my fathers were. O forgive me, that I may be
refreshed; before I go hence, and be no more."
Do Sinners gain Anything From God by their Prayers?
S. Augustine says: "If God did not hear sinners, in vain would the
publican have said, _God be merciful to me a sinner_"; and S. Chrysostom
says: "_Every one that asketh receiveth_--that is, whether he be
just man or sinner." Hence the prayers of sinners do win something from
In a sinner we have to consider two things: his nature, which God loves;
his fault, which God hates. If, then, a sinner asks something of God
formally as a sinner--that is, according to his sinful desires--God, out
of His mercy, does not hear him, though sometimes He does hear him in
His vengeance, as when He permits a sinner to fall still farther into
sin. For God "in mercy refuses some things which in anger He concedes,"
as S. Augustine says. But that prayer of a sinner which proceeds
from the good desire of his nature God hears, not, indeed, as bound in
justice to do so, for that the sinner cannot merit, but out of His pure
mercy, and on condition, too, that the four above-mentioned conditions
are observed--namely, that he prays for himself, for things needful for
his salvation, that he prays devoutly and perseveringly.
Some, however, maintain that sinners do not by their prayers win
anything from God, thus:
1. It is said in the Gospel, _Now we know that God doth not hear
sinners_; and this accords with those words of _Proverbs; He that
turneth away his ears from hearing the law, his prayer shall be an
abomination_. But a prayer which is "an abomination" cannot win anything
But, as S. Augustine remarks, the words first quoted are
due to the blind man as yet unanointed--viz., not yet perfectly
illumined--and hence they are not valid; though they might be
true if understood of a sinner precisely as such, and in this
sense, too, his prayer is said to be "an abomination."
2. Again, just men obtain from God what they merit, as we have said
above. Sinners, however, can merit nothing, since they are without
grace, and even without charity which, according to the Gloss on
the words, _Having an appearance of piety, but denying the power
thereof_, is "the _power_ of piety." And hence they cannot pray piously,
which, as we have said above, is requisite if prayer is to gain what it
But though a sinner cannot pray piously in the sense that his
prayer springs from the habit of virtue, yet his prayer can be
pious in the sense that he asks for something conducive to
piety, just as a man who has not got the habit of justice can
yet wish for some just thing, as we have pointed out above. And
though such a man's prayer is not meritorious, it may yet have
the power of winning favours; for while merit reposes upon
justice, the power of winning favours reposes upon grace.
3. Lastly, S. Chrysostom says: "The Father does not readily hear
prayers not dictated by the Son." But in the prayer which Christ
dictated it is said: _Forgive us our debts as we also forgive our
debtors_, which sinners do not. Hence sinners either lie when they say
this prayer, and so do not deserve to be heard, or, if they do not say
it, then they are not heard because they do not make use of the form of
prayer instituted by Christ.
But, as we have explained above, the _Lord's Prayer_ is spoken
in the name of the whole Church. Consequently, if a man--while
unwilling to forgive his neighbour his debts--yet says this
prayer, he does not lie; for while what he says is not true as
regards himself, it yet remains true as regards the Person of
the Church outside of which he deservedly is, and he loses, in
consequence, the fruit of his prayer. Sometimes, however,
sinners are ready to forgive their debtors, and consequently
their prayers are heard, in accordance with those words of
Ecclesiasticus: _Forgive thy neighbour if he hath hurt
thee, and then shall thy sins be forgiven to thee when thou
"With the Lord shall the steps of a man be directed, and he
shall like well his way. When he shall fall, he shall not be
bruised, for the Lord putteth His hand under him. I have been
young, and now am old; and I have not seen the just forsaken,
nor his seed seeking bread."
Can We rightly term Supplications," "Prayers," "Intercessions," and
"Thanksgivings," parts of Prayer?
The Apostle says to Timothy: _I desire therefore first of all that
supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made by all
For prayer three things are required: first of all, that he who prays
come nigh to God; and this is signified by the name _prayer_, for prayer
is "the uplifting of the mind towards God." Secondly, petition is
required, and is signified by the word _postulation_; now a petition may
be set forth in definite terms--and this some term _postulation_,
properly so called; or it may be set forth in no express terms, as when
a man asks for God's help, and this some call _supplication_; or, again,
the fact in question may be simply narrated, as in S. John: _He
whom Thou lovest is sick_, and this some call _insinuation_. And
thirdly, there is required a reason for asking for what we pray for, and
this reason may be either on the part of God or on the part of the
petitioner. The reason for asking on the part of God is His holiness, by
reason of which we ask to be heard: _Incline Thine ear and hear ... for
Thine own sake, O my God_; to this belongs _obsecration_--namely,
an appeal to sacred things, as when we say: _By Thy Nativity, deliver
us, O Lord_! But the reason for asking on the part of the petitioner is
thankfulness, for by giving thanks for benefits already received we
merit to receive still greater ones, as is set forth in the Church's
_Collect_. Hence the Gloss says that in the Mass
"_Obsecrations_ are the prayers which precede the Consecration," for in
them we commemorate certain sacred things; "in the Consecration itself
we have _prayers_," for then the mind is especially uplifted towards
God; "but in the subsequent petitions we have _postulations_, and at the
close _thanksgivings_." These four parts of prayer may be noticed in
many of the Church's _Collects_: thus in the _Collect_ for Trinity
Sunday, the words _Almighty and Everlasting God_ signify the uplifting
of the soul in prayer to God; the words: _Who hast granted to Thy
servants to acknowledge in their profession of the true faith the glory
of the Eternal Trinity, and in the Power of Its Majesty to adore Its
Unity_, signify giving of thanks; the words: _Grant, we beseech Thee,
that by perseverance in this same faith we may be ever defended from all
adversities_, signify postulation; while the closing words: _Through our
Lord Jesus Christ_, etc., signify obsecration.
In the _Conferences of the Fathers_, however, we read:
"_Obsecration_ is imploring pardon for sin; _prayer_ is when we make
vows to God; _postulation_ is when we make petition for others; _giving
of thanks_, those ineffable outpourings by which the mind renders thanks
to God." But the former explanation is preferable.
Some, however, object to these divisions of prayer, thus:
1. _Obsecration_ is apparently _to swear by someone_, whereas Origen
remarks: "A man who desires to live in accordance with the Gospel
must not swear by anyone, for if it is not allowed to swear, neither is
it allowed to swear by anyone."
But it is sufficient to remark that _obsecration_ is not a
swearing by, or adjuring of God, as though to compel Him, for
this is forbidden, but to implore His mercy.
2. Again, S. John Damascene says that prayer is "the asking God for
things that are fitting." Hence it is not exact to distinguish _prayers_
But prayer, generally considered, embraces all the
above-mentioned parts; when, however, we distinguish one part
against another, _prayer_, properly speaking, means the
uplifting of the mind to God.
3. Lastly, giving of thanks refers to the past, whereas the other parts
of prayer refer to the future. Hence giving of thanks should not be
placed after the rest.
But whereas in things which are different from one another the
past precedes the future, in one and the same thing the future
precedes the past. Hence giving of thanks for benefits already
received precedes petition; yet those same benefits were first
asked for, and then, when they had been received, thanks were
offered for them. Prayer, however, precedes petition, for by it
we draw nigh to God to Whom we make petition. And _obsecration_
precedes _prayer_, for it is from dwelling upon the Divine
Goodness that we venture to approach to Him.
* * * * *
_Cajetan:_ We might be asked how the mind can be especially elevated to
God at the moment of consecration. For in the consecration the priest
has to express distinctly the words of consecration, and consequently
cannot have his mind uplifted towards God at that moment. Indeed, the
more his mind is uplifted to God, the less he thinks of inferior things,
words, and so forth.
But in the consecration of the Holy Eucharist--in which the priest in a
sense brings God down upon earth--the very greatness of our uplifting of
mind towards the Divine Goodness Which has thus deigned to come amongst
us is the very reason for our attention to the words in the act of
consecration, and makes the priest pronounce them distinctly and
reverently. Some scrupulous folk, however, concentrate their whole
attention on being intent and attentive; but this is really a
distraction, and not attention, for its object is precisely the being
attentive. The uplifting, then, of our minds to God in the consecration
has indeed to be the very greatest, not, indeed, intensively and by
abstraction from the things of sense, but objectively and
concentrated--though always within the limits compatible with
attention--on the endeavour to say the words as they should be said
(_on_ 2. 2. 83. 17.)
* * * * *
_S. Augustine: And David went in and sat before the Lord; and
Elias, casting himself down upon the earth, put his face between his
knees._ By examples such as these we are taught that there is no
prescribed position of the body in prayer provided the soul states its
intention in the presence of God. For we pray standing, as it is
written: _The Publican standing afar off_. We pray, too, on our knees,
as we read in the Acts of the Apostles; and we pray sitting, as in
the case of David and Elias. And unless it were lawful to pray lying
down, it would not be said in the Psalms: _Every night I will wash
my bed, I will water my couch with my tears_. When, then, a man desires
to pray, he settles himself in any position that serves at the time for
the stirring up of his soul. When, on the other hand, we have no
definite intention of praying, but the wish to pray suddenly occurs to
us--when, that is, there comes of a sudden into our mind something which
rouses the desire to pray "with unspeakable groanings"--then, in
whatsoever position such a feeling may find us, we are not to put off
our prayer; we are not to look about for some place whither we can
withdraw, for some place in which to stand or in which to make
prostration. For the very intention of the mind begets a solitude, and
we often forget to which quarter of the heavens we were looking, or in
what bodily position the occasion found us (_Of Divers Questions_, iv.).
"Hear, O God, my prayer, and despise not my supplication; be
attentive to me and hear me. I am grieved in my exercise; and am
troubled at the voice of the enemy, and at the tribulation of
the sinner. For they have cast iniquities upon me, and in wrath
they were troublesome to me. My heart is troubled within me, and
the fear of death is fallen upon me. Fear and trembling are come
upon me, and darkness hath covered me. And I said: Who will give
me wings like a dove, and I will fly and be at rest?"
 _Etymologies_, x., _sub litt._ O.
 Ps. xxxviii. 13.
 _Ethics_, I. xiii. 15.
 Rabanus Maurus, _De Universis_, vi. 14.
 _On the Orthodox Faith_, iii. 24.
 Ps. x. 17.
 Isa. lxv. 24.
 _Of the Divine Names_, vi. 1.
 Ps. xxvi. 4.
 Art. XV.
 Isa. lxiv. 8, 9.
 xviii. 1.
 Mal. iii. 14.
 _Dialogue_, i. 8.
 S. Matt. vi. 32.
 1 Kings xv. 29.
 _Of Good Deeds_, ii. 1.
 _Hom._ II., _On Prayer_; also _Hom._ XXX., _On Genesis_.
 Eph. i. 4.
 Ps. lxx. 17, 18.
 S. Matt. vii. 7.
 Ps. cxx. 4.
 S. Matt. vi. 8.
 Ps. ciii. 33, 34.
 Ps. lxxxiii. 12.
 viii. 4.
 1 Cor. xiv. 15.
 _On Care for the Dead_, chaps, xiii., xv., xvi.
 _Moralia in Job_, xii. 14.
 Ps. lxvi.
 S. Matt. vi. 9-13; S. Luke xi. 2-4.
 _Of Socrates the Philosopher_, vii. 21.
 Ps. lxxix. 4.
 Ps. cxviii. 35.
 _On the Orthodox Faith_, iii. 24.
 iv. 3.
 Rom. viii. 26.
 S. John iv. 24.
 1 Tim. ii. 4.
 Isa. lxiii. 15, 16.
 xxx. 8.
 _Ep._, CXXX., chap. xii.
 _Ethics_, I. vii. 15.
 _Ep._, CXXX., chap. vi.
 S. Matt. vi. 33.
 _On the Sermon on the Mount_, II. x. 1.
 S. Matt. vi. 25.
 2 Cor. iv. 18.
 Ps. xxxvii. 10.
 1 Thess. v. 17.
 Heb. iv. 3.
 Ps. liv. 23.
 v. 16.
 _Opus Imperf. in Matthæum, Hom._ XIV.
 _On the Lord's Prayer._
 S. John xvi. 23.
 _Tractatus in Joannem_, 102.
 xv. 1.
 Ps. xxxiv. 13.
 Jer. vii. 16.
 Eccles. vii. 14.
 1 John v. 16.
 _De Correptionibus et Gratia_, cap. xv.
 Rom. xv. 30.
 1 Cor. i. 11.
 S. John xxii. 24.
 S. Matt. v. 44.
 xv. 4.
 Ps. vi. 11.
 _On the Sermon on the Mount_, i. 21.
 Apoc. vi. 10.
 Ps. lvii. 11.
 _On the Sermon on the Mount_, i. 22, and _Questions on the
Gospels_, II., xlv.
 _Questions on the Old and New Testament, Qu._ lxviii.
 Ecclus. xxxvi. 1-3.
 _Ep._ cxxx. 12.
 _Ep._ cxxx. 11.
 _Comment. on S. Matthew_, vi.
 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10.
 S. Luke i. 49.
 Ps. cxliv. 13.
 Isa. xlvi. 10.
 _On the Sermon on the Mount_, ii. 5.
 _Ep._ cxxx. 11.
 _Enchiridion_, 115.
 _On the Sermon on the Mount_, ii. 11.
 xi. 2-4.
 _Enchiridion_, 116.
 1 John iv. 19.
 S. John xvii. 1-3.
 See Touron, O.P., _Vie de S. Thomas d'Aquin_, p. 254; Paris, 1740.
 S. John xiv. 16.
 Rom. viii. 26.
 xcvi. 7.
 Ps. cxlvi. 9.
 Ecclus. xxxvi. 18, 19.
 2 Macc. xv. 14.
 _Contra Vigilantium_, vi.
 _Heb._ vii. 25. S. Thomas is quoting from memory.
 Exod. iii. 6.
 Ps. cxli. 1.
 _Ep._ cxxx. 9.
 Ps. xxvi. 8.
 1 Kings i. 13.
 Osee xiv. 3.
 Ps. xv. 9.
 S. Matt. vi. 6.
 _Opus Imperf. Hom. XIII. in Matt._
 _On the Sermon on the Mount_, ii. 3.
 Ps. cxviii. 145.
 Ps. lxxxv. 1-5.
 Ps. xxxix. 13.
 Implicitly, _Moralia in Job_, xxii. 13; but see Hugh of S. Victor,
_Exposition of the Rule of S. Augustine_, iii.
 1 Cor. xiv. 14.
 _Of the Manner of Prayer_, ii.
 iv. 24.
 _On the Monastic Constitutions_, chap. i.
 _Ep._ cxxi.
 Art. IV.
 Ps. lxxv. 4, 5.
 Ps. cxlv. 1.
 2 Cor. v. 6.
 Wisd. ix. 15.
 Ps. cxlii. 4-7.
 S. Luke xviii. 1.
 1 Thess. v. 17.
 1 Cor. x. 31.
 S. Matt. vi. 7.
 S. Luke vi. 12.
 S. Luke xxii. 43.
 Ps. xxvi. 4.
 Exod. xix. 21.
 S. Matt. vi. 9.
 S. Luke xviii. 1.
 1 Thess. v. 17.
 Ps. xxxii. 20-22.
 Ps. xxxiv. 13.
 _On the Sermon on the Mount_, Sermon CV. i.
 St. Luke vi. 13.
 _On Perseverance_, chap. xxiii.
 2 Cor. xii. 7-9.
 S. Prosper, _The Book of Sentences gleaned from S. Augustine_,
 _Tractatus in Joannem_, 102.
 _Monastic Constitutions_, chap, i.
 i. 6.
 Ps. xxxviii. 13, 14.
 _Tractatus in Joannem_, 44.
 _Opus Imperf. in Matt., Hom._ XVIII.
 _Tractatus in Joannem_, 73; and _De Verbis Domini_, Sermon cccliv.
 S. John ix. 31.
 xxviii. 8.
 _Tractatus in Joannem_, 44.
 Implicitly in the old interlinear Gloss on 2 Tim. iii. 5.
 _Opus Imperf. in Matt., Hom._ XIV.
 xxviii. 2.
 Ps. xxxvi. 23-25.
 1 Tim. ii. 1.
 xi. 3.
 Dan. ix. 18, 19.
 Friday in the September Ember days.
 The Ordinary Gloss on the words _obsecrations_, _prayers_, etc.,
in 1 Tim. ii. 1.
 _Collat._, IX., chaps. xi-xiii.
 _Tractatus_ xxxv. _in Matt._
 _De Orthodoxa Fide_, iii. 24.
 2 Kings vii. 18.
 3 Kings xviii. 42.
 vii. 59; xx. 36.
 vi. 7.
 Ps. liv. 1-7.
FROM THE SUPPLEMENT TO THE SUMMA--QUESTION LXXII
OF THE PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS WHO ARE IN HEAVEN
I. Are the Saints cognizant of our Prayers?
II. Ought we to appeal to the Saints to intercede for us?
III. Are the Saints' Prayers to God for us always heard?
Are the Saints cognizant of our Prayers?
On those words of Job, _Whether his children come to honour or
dishonour, he shall not understand_, S. Gregory says: "This is not to be
understood of the souls of the Saints, for they see from within the
glory of Almighty God, it is in nowise credible that there should be
anything without of which they are ignorant."
And he says also: "To the soul that sees its Creator all created things
are but trifling; for, however little of the Creator's light he sees,
all that is created becomes of small import to him." Yet the
greatest difficulty in saying that the souls of the Saints know our
prayers and other things which concern us, is their distance from us.
But since, according to the authority just quoted, this distance does
not preclude such knowledge, it appears that the souls of the Saints do
know our prayers and other things which concern us.
Further, if they did not know what concerned us, neither would they pray
for us, since they would not know our deficiencies. But this was the
error of Vigilantius, as S. Jerome says in his Epistle against him.
The Saints, then, know what concerns us.
* * * * *
The Divine Essence, then, is a sufficient medium for knowing all things,
as, indeed, is evident from the fact that God in seeing His own essence
sees all things. Yet it does not follow that whoever sees the Essence of
God therefore sees all things, but those only who _comprehend_ the
Essence of God; just in the same way as it does not follow that because
we know a principle we therefore know all that that principle contains,
for that would only be the case if we _comprehended_ the whole power of
the principle. Since, then, the souls of the Saints do not comprehend
the Divine Essence, it does not follow that they know everything which
could be known through the medium of that Divine Essence. Hence the
inferior Angels are taught certain things by the higher Angels, though
all see the Divine Essence. But each person in possession of the
Beatific Vision only sees in the Divine Essence as much of other things
as is necessitated by the degree of perfection of his beatitude; and for
the perfection of beatitude it is required that a man "should have
whatever he wants, and should desire nothing in an inordinate
fashion." Each one, however, rightly desires to know those things
which concern himself. Hence, since no rectitude is lacking to the
Saints, they wish to know those things which concern themselves, and
consequently they must know them in the Word. But it belongs to their
glory that they should be able to help on the salvation of those who
need it, for it is thus that they are made co-workers with God--"than
which there is nought more Divine," as Denis says. It is clear,
then, that the Saints have a knowledge of those things which are
requisite for this end. And so, too, it is manifest that they know in
the Word the desires, the devout acts and the prayers, of men who fly to
them for help.
Some, however, maintain that the Saints do not know our prayers, thus:
1. On the words of Isaias, _Thou art our Father, and Abraham hath
not known us, and Israel hath been ignorant of us_, the Interlinear
Gloss has: "For the Saints who are dead know not what the living do,
even their own children." This is taken from S. Augustine's treatise _On
Care for the Dead_, xiii., where he quotes these words, and adds: "If
these great Patriarchs were ignorant of what concerned those whom they
had begotten, how can the dead be concerned with knowing and assisting
the affairs and the deeds of the living?" Hence it would seem that the
Saints are not cognizant of our prayers.
But these words of S. Augustine are to be understood of the
natural knowledge of the souls separated (from this world); and
this knowledge is not obscured in holy men as it is in sinners.
Moreover, S. Augustine is not talking of that knowledge which is
in the Word, a knowledge which it is clear that Abraham had not
at the time that Isaias said these things; for anterior to
Christ's Passion no one had attained to the Vision of God.
2. In 4 Kings xxii. 20, it is said to Josias the king:
_Therefore_--because, that is, thou didst weep before Me--_I will gather
thee to thy fathers ... that thy eyes may not see all the evils which I
will bring upon this place_. But the death of Josias would have been no
relief to him if he was to know after death what was going to happen to
his nation. The Saints, then, who are dead, do not know our acts, and
consequently cannot understand our prayers.
But although after this life the Saints know the things which
are done here below, we are not therefore to suppose that they
are filled with grief at the knowledge of the afflictions of
those whom they loved in the world. For they are so filled with
the joy of their beatitude that sorrow finds no place in them.
Hence, if they know after death the evil plight of those dear to
them, it is none the less a relief to their sorrow if they are
withdrawn from this world before those woes come on.
At the same time it is possible that souls not yet in glory
would feel a certain grief if they were made aware of the
sorrows of those dear to them. And since the soul of Josias was
not immediately glorified on its quitting the body, S. Augustine
endeavours to argue that the souls of the dead have no knowledge
of the deeds of the living.
3. Again, the more a person is perfected in charity the more ready he is
to succour his neighbour in peril. But the Saints while still in the
flesh had a care for their neighbours, and especially for their
relatives, when in peril. Since, then, they are after death far more
perfected in charity, if they were cognizant of our deeds, they would
have now a much greater care for those dear to them or related to them,
and would help them much more in their necessities; but this does not
seem to be the case. Whence it would seem that they are not cognizant of
our actions nor of our prayers.
But the souls of the Saints have their will perfectly conformed
to the Will of God, even in what they would will. Consequently,
while retaining their feelings of charity towards their
neighbour, they afford them no other assistance than that which
they see is arranged for them in accordance with Divine Justice.
Yet at the same time we must believe that they help their
neighbours very much indeed by interceding for them with God.
4. Further, just as the Saints after death see the Word, so also do the
Angels, for of them it is said: _Their Angels in Heaven always see the
face of My Father Who is in Heaven_. But the Angels, though seeing
the Word, do not therefore know all things, for the inferior Angels are
purified of their ignorance by the superior Angels, as is evident from
Denis. Consequently, neither do the Saints, although they see the
Word, know in It our prayers and other things which concern us.
But although it is not necessary that those who see the Word
should see all things in the Word, they none the less see those
things which belong to the perfection of their beatitude, as we
have said above.
5. Lastly, God alone is the Searcher of hearts. But prayer is
essentially an affair of the heart. Consequently God alone knows our
But God alone knows of Himself the thoughts of the heart; others
know them according as they are revealed to them either in their
vision of the Word or in any other way.
Ought we to appeal to the Saints to intercede for us?
In the Book of Job, it is said: _Call now, if there be any that
will answer thee; and turn to some of the Saints_. And on this S.
Gregory says: "It is our business to call, and to beseech God in humble
prayer." When, then, we desire to pray to God, we ought to turn to
the Saints that they may pray for us.
Further, the Saints who are in the Fatherland are more acceptable in the
sight of God than they were when upon earth. But we ought to ask the
Saints even when on earth to be our intercessors with God, as the
Apostle shows us by his example when he says: _I beseech you, therefore,
brethren, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the charity of the Holy
Ghost, that you help me in your prayers for me to God_. Much more,
then, should we ask the Saints who are in our Fatherland to help us by
their prayers to God.
Moreover, the common custom of the Church confirms this, since in her
Litanies she asks the prayers of the Saints.
* * * * *
In the words of Denis, "there is this Divinely established harmony
in things--that they which hold the lowest place should be brought to
God through them that come between them and God." Since, then, the
Saints who are in our Fatherland are most nigh to God, the harmony of
the Divine Government demands that we who, abiding in the body, are
"absent from the Lord," should be led to Him by the Saints who stand
midway; and this is secured when through their means the Divine Goodness
pours out Its effects upon us. And since our return to God ought to
correspond to the orderly way in which His goodnesses flow upon us--for
His benefits flow out upon us through the intervention of the Saints'
suffrages for us--so also ought we to be brought back to God through the
intervention of the Saints, and thus once more receive His benefits.
Whence it is that we make them our intercessors for us with God--and, as
it were, mediators--by begging them to pray for us.
* * * * *
But some say that we should not ask the Saints to pray for us, thus:
1. No one asks a man's friends to intercede for him except in so far as
he thinks that he can obtain a favour more easily through them. But God
is infinitely more merciful than any Saint, and consequently His Will is
more readily inclined to hear us than is the will of any Saint. Whence
it would seem superfluous to make the Saints mediators between ourselves
and God, and so ask them to intercede for us.
But just as it is not by reason of any deficiency on the part of
the Divine Power that It works through the mediumship of
secondary causes, whereas it rather tends to the fulfilment of
the harmony of the universe that His Goodness should be more
copiously diffused upon things, so that things not only receive
from Him their own peculiar goodness, but themselves become a
source of goodness to other things as well; so in the same way
it is not by reason of any lack of mercy on His part that appeal
to His mercy by means of the prayers of the Saints is fitting;
but this is done in order that the aforesaid harmony may be
2. If we ought to ask the Saints to pray for us, it can only be because
we know that their prayers are acceptable to God. But the more saintly
is a Saint, the more acceptable is his prayer to God. Consequently we
ought always to make the greater Saints our intercessors with God, and
never the lesser ones.
Yet although the greater Saints are more acceptable to God than
are the lesser ones, it is still useful to pray sometimes to the
lesser Saints. And this for five reasons: Firstly, because a man
sometimes has a greater devotion to some lesser Saint than to
one who is greater; and the efficacy of our prayers depends very
much on our devotion. Secondly, in order to avoid weariness; for
unremitting application to one thing begets distaste; but when
we pray to various Saints fresh devotional fervour is stirred up
in practically each case. Thirdly, because certain Saints are
appointed the patrons of certain particular cases, so S. Antony
for the avoidance of hell-fire. Fourthly, that so we may show
due honour to them all. Fifthly, because sometimes a favour may
be gained at the prayer of many which would not be gained at the
prayer of one alone.
3. Christ, even as man, is termed _the Saint of Saints_; and it
belongs to Him, as man, to pray. Yet we never ask Christ to pray for us.
Hence it is superfluous to make the Saints our intercessors with God.
But prayer is an act. And acts belong to individual beings.
Consequently, if we were to say, _Christ, pray for us_, we
should appear, unless we added something, to be referring this
to Christ's Person, and thus we might seem to fall into the
error of Nestorius who regarded the Person of the Son of Man as
distinct in Christ from the Person of the Son of God; or
perhaps, too, into the error of Arius who regarded the Person of
the Son as less than the Father. In order, then, to avoid these
errors, the Church does not say, _Christ, pray for us_, but
_Christ, hear us_, or _Christ, have mercy on us_.
4. Once more, when one is asked to intercede for another, he presents
the latter's prayers to him with whom he has to intercede. But it is
superfluous to present anything to Him to Whom all things are present.
Hence it is superfluous to make the Saints our intercessors with God.
But the Saints are not said to present our prayers to God as
though they were manifesting to Him something which He did not
know, but in the sense that they ask that these prayers may be
heard by God, or that they consult the Divine Truth concerning
them, so as to know what, according to His providence, ought to
5. Lastly, that must be held superfluous which is done for the sake of
something which, whether the former were done or not, would yet take
place--or not take place--all the same. But similarly, the Saints would
pray for us or not pray for us whether we asked them to do so or not.
For if we deserve that they should pray for us, they would pray for us,
even though we did not ask them to do so; if, on the other hand, we are
not deserving that they should pray for us, then they do not pray for
us--even though we ask them to do so. Hence to ask them to pray for us
seems altogether superfluous.
But a man becomes deserving that some Saint should pray for him
from the very fact that with pure-hearted devotion he has
recourse to him in his needs. Hence it is not superfluous to
pray to the Saints.
Are the Saints' Prayers to God for us always heard?
In 2 Maccabees xv. 14 it is said: _This is he that prayeth much for the
people, and for all the Holy City, Jeremias the prophet of God_; and
that his prayer was heard is evident from what follows, for _Jeremias
stretched forth his right hand and gave to Judas a sword of gold,
saying: Take this holy sword, a gift from God_, etc.
Further, S. Jerome says: "You say in your book that while we live
we can pray for one another, but that after we are dead no one's prayer
for others will be heard"; and S. Jerome condemns this statement thus:
"If the Apostles and Martyrs while still in the body could pray for
others while as yet solicitous for themselves, how much more when they
have won their crown, completed the victory, and gained their triumph?"
Moreover, the Church's custom confirms this, for she frequently asks to
be helped by the prayers of the Saints.
* * * * *
The Saints are said to pray for us in two ways: firstly, by express
prayer, when they by their ardent desires appeal to the ears of the
Divine Mercy for us; secondly, by interpretative prayer--namely, by
their merits which, standing as the Saints do in the sight of God, not
only tend to their own glory but are, as it were, suffrages--and even
prayers--for us; just as the Blood of Christ, shed for us, is said to
ask pardon for us. And in both ways the prayers of the Saints are, as
far as in them lies, efficacious in obtaining what they ask for. But
that we do not obtain the fruit of their prayers may be due to defects
on our part, according, that is, as they are said to pray for us in the
sense that their merits avail for us. But according as they actually do
pray for us--that is, ask something for us by their desires--they are
always heard. For the Saints only wish what God wishes, and they only
ask for what they wish should be done; what God, however, wishes is
always done--unless, indeed, we are speaking of the _antecedent_ will of
God, according to which _He wills all men to be saved_: this will is not
always fulfilled. Hence it is not to be wondered at if what the Saints
also will according to this kind of will is not always fulfilled.
But some maintain that the Saints' prayers for us are not always heard,
1. If the Saints' prayers were always heard, they would be especially
heard when they pray for those things which affect themselves. Yet they
are not always heard as regards these things, for to the Martyrs who
prayed for vengeance upon the inhabitants of the earth it was said _that
they should rest for a little time till_ the number of _their brethren
should be filled up_. Much less, then, are their prayers heard for
things that do not concern them.
But this prayer of the Martyrs is nothing more than their desire
to obtain the garment of the body and the society of the Saints
who are to be saved; it expresses their agreement with the
Divine Justice which punishes the wicked. Hence on those words
of the Apocalypse, _How long, O Lord_, the Ordinary Gloss
says: "They yearn for a greater joy, and for the companionship
of the Saints, and they agree with the justice of God."
2. It is said in Jeremias: _If Moses and Samuel shall stand before
Me, My soul is not towards this people_. The Saints, then, are not
always heard when they pray for us to God.
But God here speaks of Moses and Samuel according as they were
in this life, for they are said to have prayed for the people
and thus withstood the wrath of God. Yet none the less, had they
lived in Jeremias' time they would not have been able to appease
by their prayers God's wrath upon the people, so great was the
latter's wickedness. This is the meaning of that passage.
3. The Saints in our Fatherland are said to be the equals of the
Angels. But the Angels are not always heard in their prayers to
God, as is evident from Daniel: _I am come for thy words. But the
Prince of the kingdom of the Persians resisted me one and twenty days._
But the Angel who spoke had not come to Daniel's assistance without
asking his freedom from God; yet none the less the fulfilment of his
prayer was hindered. In the same way, then, neither are the prayers of
other Saints to God for us always heard.
But this contest of the good Angels is not to be understood in
the sense that they put forth contrary prayers before God, but
that they set before the Divine scrutiny conflicting merits on
either hand, and awaited the Divine decision. Thus S. Gregory,
expounding the above words of Daniel, says: "These sublime
Spirits who rule over the nations in no sense strive for those
who do evil, but they scrutinize their deeds and judge justly;
hence, when the faults or the merits of any nation are submitted
to the Council of the Supreme Court, he who is set over that
particular nation is described as either losing or failing in
the contest. But the sole victory for all of them is the supreme
will of his Creator above him; and since they ever look towards
that Will, they never desire what they cannot obtain," and
hence never ask for it. Whence it is clear that their prayers
are always heard.
4. Whoever obtains something by prayer in a certain sense merits it. But
the Saints who are in our Fatherland are no longer capable of meriting.
Therefore they cannot obtain anything for us from God by their prayers.
But although the Saints when once they are in our Fatherland are
not capable of meriting for themselves, they are still capable
of meriting for others, or rather of helping others by reason of
their own previous merits. For when alive they merited from God
that their prayers should be heard after death. Or we might say
that in prayer merit and the power to obtain what we ask do not
rest on the same basis. For merit consists in a certain
correspondence between an act and the end towards which it is
directed and which is given to it as its reward; but the
impetratory power of prayer rests upon the generosity of him
from whom we ask something. Consequently prayer sometimes wins
from the generosity of him to whom it is made what perhaps was
not merited either by him who asked nor by him for whom he
asked. And thus, though the Saints are no longer capable of
meriting, it does not follow that they are incapable of winning
things from God.
5. Again, the Saints conform their will in all things to the Divine
Will. Therefore they can only will what they know God wills. But no one
prays save for what he wishes. Consequently they only pray for what they
know God wills. But what God wills would take place whether they prayed
or not. Consequently their prayers have no power to obtain things.
But, as is evident from the passage of S. Gregory quoted above
in reply to the third difficulty, neither the Saints nor the
Angels will anything save what they see in the Divine Will. And
consequently they ask for nothing else save this. But it does
not follow that their prayers are without fruit, for, as S.
Augustine says in his treatise, _On the Predestination of the
Saints_, and S. Gregory in his _Dialogues_, the
prayers of the Saints avail for the predestinate, because
perhaps it was pre-ordained that they should be saved by the
prayers of those who interceded for them. And so, too, God wills
that by the prayers of the Saints should be fulfilled what the
Saints see that He wills.
6. Lastly, the prayers of the entire Court of Heaven should, if they can
gain anything at all, be far more efficacious than all the suffrages of
the Church on earth. But if all the suffrages of the Church on earth
were to be accumulated upon one soul in Purgatory, it would be entirely
freed from punishment. Since, then, the Saints who are in our Fatherland
have the same reason for praying for the souls in Purgatory as they have
for praying for us, they would by their prayers, if they could obtain
anything for us, wholly deliver from suffering those who are in
Purgatory. But this is false, for if it were true, then the suffrages of
the Church for the dead would be superfluous.
But the suffrages of the Church for the dead are, as it were,
satisfactions offered by the living in place of the dead, and
thus they free the dead from that debt of punishment which they
have not paid. But the Saints who are in our Fatherland are not
capable of making satisfaction. And thus there is no parity
between their prayers and the Church's suffrages.
 xiv. 21.
 _Moralia in Job_, xii. 14.
 _Dialogue_, li. 35.
 _Contra Vigilant._, vi.
 S. Augustine: _Of the Trinity_, xiii. 5.
 _Of the Heavenly Hierarchy_, iii.
 lxiii. 16.
 _De Cura Mortuorum_, 13, 14, 15.
 S. Matt, xviii. 10.
 _Of the Heavenly Hierarchy_, vii.; and _Of the Ecclesiastical
 v. 1.
 _Moralia in Job_, v. 30.
 Rom. xv. 30.
 _Of the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy_, v.
 Dan. ix. 14.
 _Ep. contra Vigilantium_, vi.
 Apoc. vi. 11.
 vi. 10.
 xv. 1.
 S. Matt. xxii. 30.
 x. 12-13.
 _Moralia on Job_, xvii. 12.
 _De Dono Perseverantiæ_, xxii.
 i. 8.
OF THE DIVISION OF LIFE INTO THE ACTIVE AND THE CONTEMPLATIVE
I. May Life be fittingly divided into the Active and
S. Augustine, _De Consensu Evangelistarum_, I., iv. 8
" _Tractatus, cxxiv. 5, in Joannem_
II. Is this division of Life into the Active and the
Contemplative a sufficient one?
S. Augustine, _Of the Trinity_, I., viii. 17
May Life be fittingly divided into the Active and the Contemplative?
S. Gregory the Great says: "There are two kinds of lives in which
Almighty God instructs us by His Sacred Word--namely, the active and the
Those things are properly said to live which move or work from within
themselves. But what especially accords with the innermost nature of a
thing is that which is proper to it and towards which it is especially
inclined; consequently every living thing shows that it is living by
those very acts which are especially befitting it and towards which it
is especially inclined. Thus the life of plants is said to consist in
their growing and in their producing seed; the life of animals in their
feeling and moving; while that of man consists in his understanding and
in his acting according to reason.
Hence among men themselves each man's life appears to be that in which
he takes special pleasure, that with which he is particularly occupied,
that, in fine, in which each one wishes to live with a friend, as is
said in the _Ethics of Aristotle_.
Since, then, some men are especially occupied with the contemplation of
the truth while others are especially-occupied with external things,
man's life may be conveniently divided into the active and the
* * * * *
Some, however, repudiate this division, thus:
1. The soul is by its essence the principle of life; thus the
Philosopher says: "For living things, to live is to be." But the
same soul with its faculties is the principle both of action and of
contemplation. Hence it would seem that life cannot be suitably divided
into the active and the contemplative.
But the peculiar nature of every individual thing--that which
makes it actually be--is the principle of its own proper action;
consequently _to live_ is said to be the very _being_ of living
things, and this because living things--by the very fact that
they exist through such a nature--act in such a way.
2. Again, when one thing precedes another it is unfitting to divide the
former by differences which find place in the latter. But action and
contemplation, like speculation and practice, are distinctions in the
intellect, as is laid down by the Philosopher. But we live before
we understand; for life is primarily in living things by their
vegetative soul, as also the Philosopher says. Therefore life is
not fittingly divided according to contemplation and action.
But we do not say that life universally considered is divided
into the active and the contemplative, but that man's life is so
divided. For man derives his species from his intellect, hence
the same divisions hold good for human life as hold good for the
3. Lastly, the word "life" implies motion, as is clear from Denis the
Areopagite. But contemplation more especially consists in repose,
according to the words: _When I go into my house I shall repose myself
with her (Wisdom)_.
But while contemplation implies a certain repose from external
occupations, it is still a certain motion of the intellect in
the sense that every operation is a motion; in this sense the
Philosopher says that to feel and to understand are certain
motions in the sense that motion is said to be the act of a
perfect thing. It is in this sense, too, that Denis
assigns three movements to the soul in contemplation: the
direct, the circular, and the oblique.
* * * * *
_S. Augustine:_ Two virtues are set before the human soul, the one
active, the other contemplative; the former shows the path, the latter
shows the goal; in the one we toil that so the heart may be purified for
the Vision of God, in the other we repose and we see God; the one is
spent in the practice of the precepts of this temporal life, the other
is occupied with the teachings of the life that is eternal. Hence it is
that the one is a life of toil and the other a life of rest; for the
former is engaged in purging away its sins, the latter already stands in
the light of the purified. Hence, too, during this mortal life the
former is occupied with the works of a good life, whereas the latter
rather stands in faith, and, in the case of some few, sees _through a
mirror in a dark manner_, and enjoys _in part_ a certain glimpse of the
Unchangeable Truth (_De Consensu Evangelistarum_, I., iv. 8).
"The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup; it is
Thou that wilt restore my inheritance to me. The lines are
fallen unto me in goodly places; for my inheritance is goodly to
_S. Augustine:_ There is another life, the life of immortality, and in
it there are no ills; there we shall see face to face what we now see
_through a glass and in a dark manner_ even when we have made great
advance in our study of the Truth. The Church, then, knows of two kinds
of life Divinely set before Her and commended to Her; in the one we walk
by faith, in the other by sight; the one is the pilgrimage of time, the
other is the mansion of eternity; the one is a life of toil, the other
of repose; in the one we are on the way, in the other in Our Father's
Home; the one is spent in the toil of action, the other in the reward of
contemplation; the one _turneth away from evil and doth good_, the other
hath no evil from which to turn away, but rather a Great Good Which it
enjoys; the one is in conflict with the foe, the other reigns--conscious
that there is no foe; the one is strong in adversity, the other knows of
no adversity; the one bridles the lusts of the flesh, the other is given
up to the joys of the Spirit; the one is anxious to overcome, the other
is tranquil in the peace of victory; the one is helped in temptations,
the other, without temptation, rejoices in its Helper; the one succours
the needy, the other dwells where none are needy; the one condones the
sins of others that thereby its own sins may be condoned, the other
suffers naught that it can pardon nor does ought that calls for pardon;
the one is afflicted in sufferings lest it should be uplifted in good
things, the other is steeped in such fulness of grace as to be free from
all evil that so, without temptation to pride, it may cling to the
Supreme Good; the one distinguishes between good and evil, the other
sees naught save what is good; the one therefore is good--yet still in
miseries, the other is better--and in Blessedness (_Tractatus_, cxxiv.
5, _in Joannem_).
"Jesu nostra Redemptio
Amor et Desiderium!
Deus Creator omnium,
Homo in fine temporum!"
Is this division of Life into the Active and the Contemplative a
These two kinds of life are signified by the two wives of Jacob--namely,
the active life by Lia, the contemplative by Rachel. They are also
signified by those two women who afforded hospitality to the Lord: the
contemplative, namely, by Mary, the active by Martha, as S. Gregory
says. But if there were more than two kinds of life, these
significations would not be fitting.
As we have said above, the division in question concerns human life
regarded as intellectual. And the intellect itself is divided into the
contemplative and the active, for the aim of intellectual knowledge is
either the actual knowledge of the truth--and this belongs to the
contemplative intellect, or it is some external action--and this
concerns the practical or active intellect. Hence life is quite
sufficiently divided into the active and the contemplative.
But some argue that this division is not a sufficient one, thus:
1. The Philosopher says that there are three specially excellent
kinds of life: the pleasurable, the civil--which seems to be identified
with the active--and the contemplative.
But the pleasurable life makes its end consist in the pleasures
of that body which we have in common with the brute creation.
Hence, as the Philosopher says in the same place, this is a
bestial life. Consequently it is not comprised in our division
of life into the active and the contemplative.
2. Again, S. Augustine speaks of three different kinds of life: the
life of leisure, which is referred to the contemplative; the busy life,
which is referred to the active life; and he adds a third composed of
But things which hold a middle course are compounded of the
extremes, and hence are virtually contained in them, as the
tepid in the hot and the cold, the pallid in the white and the
black. And similarly, under the active and the contemplative
lives is comprised that kind of life which is compounded of them
both. But just as in every mixture one of the simple elements
predominates, so in this mixed kind of life now the
contemplative, now the active predominates.
3. Lastly, men's lives are diversified according to their various
occupations. But there are more than two classes of human occupations.
But all classes of human occupations are, if they are concerned
with the necessities of this present life, and in accordance
with right reason, comprised under the active life which, by
properly regulated acts, takes heed for the needs of the present
life. But if these actions minister to our concupiscences, then
they fall under the voluptuous life which is not comprised in
the active life. But human occupations which are directed to the
consideration of the truth are comprised under the contemplative
* * * * *
_S. Augustine: Your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall
appear, Who is your life, then you also shall appear with Him in
glory_; but until that shall come to pass _we see now through a
glass in a dark manner_--that is, in images as it were--_but then face
to face_. This, indeed, is the contemplation that is promised to
us, the goal of all our actions, the eternal perfection of all our joys.
For _we are the sons of God, and it hath not yet appeared what we shall
be; we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall
see Him as He is_. And as He said to His servant Moses: _I am Who
am ... thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: He Who is hath
sent me to you_, even that shall we contemplate when we live in
eternity. Thus, too, He says: _This is eternal life, that they may know
Thee, the only True God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent_. And
this shall be when the Lord shall come and _bring to light the hidden
things of darkness_, when the gloom of our mortal corruption shall
have passed away. Then will be our "morning," that "morning" of which
the Psalmist says: _In the morning I will stand before Thee and I will
see_. ... Then, too, will come to pass that which is written: _Thou
shall fill me with joy with Thy countenance_. Beyond that joy we
shall seek for nothing, for there is naught further to be sought. The
Father will be shown to us, and that will suffice for us. Well did
Philip understand this when he said to the Lord: _Show us the Father,
and it is enough for us!_ ... Such contemplation, indeed, is the
reward of faith, and for this reward's sake are our hearts purified by
faith, as it is written: _Purifying their hearts by faith_ (_De
Trinitate_, I., viii. 17).
"Remember, O Lord, Thy bowels of compassion; and Thy mercies
that are from the beginning of the world. The sins of my youth
and my ignorances do not remember. According to Thy mercy
remember Thou me; for Thy goodness' sake, O Lord. The Lord is
sweet and righteous; therefore He will give a law to sinners in
the way. He will guide the mild in judgment; He will teach the
meek His ways. All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth to
them that seek after His covenant and His testimonies. For Thy
Name's sake, O Lord, Thou wilt pardon my sin; for it is
 Hom. XIV., _On Ezechiel_.
 IX., xii. 21.
 _De Anima_, II., iv. 4.
 _De Anima_, III., x. 2.
 _Ibid._, II., iv. 2.
 _Of the Divine Names_, vi.
 Wisd. viii. 16.
 _De Anima_, III., vii. 1.
 _Of the Divine Names_, IV., i. 7.
 For a commentary on this passage of S. Denis, see Qu. CLXXX., Art.
6, pp. 203-210.
 Ps. xv. 5-6.
 _Moralia in Job_, vi. 18; and _Hom._ XIV., _On Ezechiel_.
 _Ethics_, I., v. 21.
 _Of the City of God_, xix. 2 and 19.
 Col. iii. 3-4.
 1 Cor. xiii. 12.
 1 John iii. 2.
 Exod. iii. 14.
 S. John xvii. 3.
 1 Cor. iv. 5.
 Ps. v. 5.
 Ps. xv. 11.
 S. John xiv. 8.
 Acts xv. 9.
 Ps. xxiv. 6-11.
OF THE CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE
I. Is the Contemplative Life wholly confined to the Intellect,
or does the Will enter into it?
S. Thomas, _On the Beatific Vision_, I., xii. 7
II. Do the Moral Virtues pertain to the Contemplative Life?
S. Augustine, _Of the City of God_, xix. 19
III. Does the Contemplative Life comprise many Acts?
S. Augustine, _Of the Perfection of Human
Righteousness_, viii. 18
" _Ep._, cxxx. _ad probam_
IV. Does the Contemplative Life consist solely in the
Contemplation of God, or in the Consideration
of other Truths as well?
S. Augustine, _Sermon_, CLXIX., xiv. 17
" _Ep._, cxxx. _ad probam_
V. Can the Contemplative Life attain, according to the State of
this Present Life, to the Contemplation
of the Divine Essence?
S. Augustine, _Of the Sermon on the Mount_, II.,
VI. Is the Act of Contemplation rightly distinguished according
to the three kinds of Motion--Circular, Direct,
VII. Has Contemplation its Joys?
VIII. Is the Contemplative Life lasting?
S. Augustine, _Sermon_, cclix., _On Low Sunday_
Is the Contemplative Life wholly confined to the Intellect, or does the
Will enter into it?
S. Gregory the Great says: "The contemplative life means keeping of
charity towards God and our neighbour, and fixing all our desires on our
Creator." But desire and love belong to the affective or appetitive
powers; consequently the contemplative life is not confined to the
* * * * *
When men's thoughts are principally directed towards the contemplation
of the truth, their life is said to be "contemplative." But to "intend"
or direct is an act of the will, since "intention" or direction is
concerned with the end in view, and the end is the proper object of the
will. Hence contemplation, having regard to the actual essence of it, is
an act of the intellect; but if we consider that which moves us to the
exercise of such an act, then contemplation is an act of the will; for
it is the will which moves all the other faculties, including the
intellect, to the exercise of their appropriate acts.
But the appetitive faculty--the will, that is--moves us to consider some
point either sensibly or intellectually, that is, sometimes out of love
for the thing itself--for _Where thy treasure is there is thy heart
also_,--and sometimes out of love of that very knowledge which follows
from its consideration. For this reason S. Gregory makes the
contemplative life consist in the love of God, since from love of God a
man yearns to look upon His beauty. And since we are delighted when we
obtain what we love, the contemplative life consequently results in
delight, and this resides in the affective powers, from which, too, love
took its rise.
* * * * *
Some, however, urge that the contemplative life lies wholly in the
1. The Philosopher says: "The end of contemplation is truth." But
truth belongs wholly to the intellect.
But from the very fact that truth is the goal of contemplation
it derives its character of a desirable and lovable and pleasing
good, and in this sense it comes under the appetitive powers.
2. Again, S. Gregory says: "Rachel, whose name is interpreted 'the
Beginning seen,' signifies the contemplative life." But the vision of a
principle, or beginning, belongs to the intellect.
But it is love of God which excites in us desire of the vision
of the First Principle of all--viz., God Himself--and hence S.
Gregory says: "The contemplative life, trampling underfoot
all cares, ardently yearns to look upon the face of the
3. S. Gregory says: "It belongs to the contemplative life to rest
from all exterior action." But the affective or appetitive powers tend
towards external action. Hence it would seem that the contemplative life
does not come under them.
But the appetitive powers not only move the bodily members to
the performance of external acts, but the intellect, too, is
moved by them to the exercise of contemplation.
"Hear, you that are far off, what I have done, and you that are
near, know My strength. The sinners in Sion are afraid,
trembling hath seized upon the hypocrites. Which of you can
dwell with devouring fire? which of you shall dwell with
everlasting burnings? He that walketh in justices, and speaketh
truth, that casteth away avarice by oppression, and shaketh his
hands from all bribes, that stoppeth his ears lest he hear
blood, and shutteth his eyes that he may see no evil. He shall
dwell on high, the fortifications of rocks shall be his
highness: bread is given him, his waters are sure. His eyes
shall see the King in His beauty, they shall see the land far
* * * * *
_S. Thomas:_ We do not enjoy all the things that we have; and this is
either because they do not afford us delight, or because they are not
the ultimate goal of our desires, and so are incapable of satisfying our
yearnings or affording us repose. But these three things the Blessed
have in God: for they see Him, and seeing Him they hold Him ever present
to them, for they have it in their power always to see Him; and holding
Him, they enjoy Him, satisfying their yearnings with That Which is The
Ultimate End (_Summa Theologica_, I., xii. 7, _ad 3m_).
"As the hart panteth after the fountains of water: so my soul
panteth after Thee, O God. My soul hath thirsted after the
strong living God; when shall I come and appear before the face
of God? My tears have been my bread day and night, whilst it is
said to me daily: Where is thy God? These things I remembered,
and poured out my soul in me; for I shall go over into the place
of the wonderful tabernacle, even to the house of God. With the
voice of joy and praise; the noise of one feasting. Why art thou
sad, O my soul? and why dost thou trouble me? Hope in God, for I
will still give praise to Him: the salvation of my countenance,
and my God."
Do the Moral Virtues pertain to the Contemplative Life?
The moral virtues are directed towards external actions, and S. Gregory
says: "It belongs to the contemplative life to abstain from all
external action." Hence the moral virtues do not pertain to the
A thing may pertain to the contemplative life either essentially or by
way of disposition towards it. Essentially, then, the moral virtues do
not pertain to the contemplative life; for the goal of the contemplative
life is the consideration of truth. "Knowledge," says the Philosopher,
"which pertains to the consideration of truth, has little to do with the
moral virtues." Hence he also says that moral virtues pertain
to active, not to contemplative happiness.
But dispositively the moral virtues do belong to the contemplative life.
For actual contemplation, in which the contemplative life essentially
consists, is impeded both by the vehemence of the passions which
distract the soul from occupation with the things of the intellect, and
divert it to the things of sense, and also by external disturbances. The
moral virtues, however, keep down the vehemence of the passions, and
check the disturbance that might arise from external occupations.
Consequently the moral virtues do pertain to the contemplative life, but
by way of disposition thereto.
* * * * *
But some maintain that the moral virtues do pertain to the contemplative
1. S. Gregory says: "The contemplative life means keeping charity
towards God and our neighbour with our whole soul." But all the moral
virtues--acts of which fall under precept--are reduced to love of God
and of our neighbour; for _Love is the fulfilling of the Law_.
Consequently it would seem that the moral virtues do pertain to the
But, as we have already said, the contemplative life is motived
by the affective faculties, and consequently love of God and of
our neighbour are required for the contemplative life. Impelling
causes, however, do not enter into the essence of a thing, but
prepare for it and perfect it. Hence it does not follow that the
moral virtues essentially pertain to the contemplative life.
2. Again; the contemplative life is especially directed towards the
contemplation of God, as S. Gregory says: "The soul, trampling all cares
underfoot, ardently yearns to see its Creator's face." But no one can
attain to this without that cleanness of heart which the moral virtues
procure: _Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God_,
and again: _Follow peace with all men with holiness, without which no
man shall see God_.
But holiness--that is, cleanness of heart--is produced by those
virtues which have to do with those passions which hinder the
purity of the reason. And peace is produced by justice--the
moral virtue which is concerned with our works: _The work of
justice shall be peace_ inasmuch, that is, as a man, by
refraining from injuring others, removes occasions of strife and
3. Lastly, S. Gregory says: "The contemplative life is something
beautiful in the soul," and it is for this reason that it is said to be
typified by Rachel, for _She was well-favoured and of a beautiful
countenance_. But the beauty of the soul, as S. Ambrose remarks,
depends upon the moral virtues and especially on that of
But beauty consists in a certain splendour combined with a
becoming harmony. Both of these points are radically to be
referred to the reason, for to it belongs both the light which
manifests beauty, and the establishment of due proportion in
others. Consequently in the contemplative life--which consists
in the act of the reason--beauty is necessarily and essentially
to be found; thus of the contemplation of Wisdom it is said:
_And I became a lover of her beauty_. But in the moral
virtues beauty is only found by a certain participation--in
proportion, namely, as they share in the harmony of reason; and
this is especially the case with the virtue of temperance whose
function it is to repress those desires which particularly
obscure the light of reason. Hence it is, too, that the virtue
of chastity especially renders a man fit for contemplation, for
venereal pleasures are precisely those which, as S. Augustine
points out, most drag down the mind to the things of sense.
* * * * *
_S. Augustine:_ While it is true that any one of these three kinds of
life--the leisurely, the busy, and the life commingled of them both--may
be embraced by anybody without prejudice to his faith, and may be the
means of leading him to his eternal reward, it is yet important that a
man should take note of what it is that he holds to through love of the
truth, and should reflect on the nature of the work to which he devotes
himself at the demand of charity. For no man should be so addicted to
leisure as for its sake to neglect his neighbour's profit; neither
should any man be so devoted to the active life as to forget the thought
of God. For in our leisured life we are not to find delight in mere idle
repose, but the seeking and finding of the truth must be our aim; each
must strive to advance in that, to hold fast what he finds, and yet not
to grudge it to his neighbour. Similarly, in the life of action: we must
not love honour in this life, nor power; for _all things are vain under
the sun_. But we must love the toil itself which comes to us together
with such honour or power if it be rightly and profitably used--as
tending, that is, to the salvation under God of those under us.... Love
of truth, then, seeks for a holy leisure; the calls of charity compel us
to undertake the labours of justice. If no one lays on us this burden,
then must we devote our leisure to the search after and the study of the
truth; but if such burden be imposed upon us, we must shoulder it at the
call of charity; yet withal we must not wholly abandon the delights of
the truth, lest while the latter's sweetness is withdrawn from us, the
burden we have taken up overwhelm us (_Of the City of God_, xix. 19).
"O expectation of Israel, the Saviour thereof in time of
trouble: why wilt Thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a
wayfaring man turning in to lodge? Why wilt Thou be as a
wandering man, as a mighty man that cannot save? but Thou, O
Lord, art among us, and Thy Name is called upon us, forsake us
Does the Contemplative Life comprise many Acts?
By "life" is here meant any work to which a man principally devotes
himself. Hence if there were many acts or works in the contemplative
life, it would not be one life, but several.
It must be understood that we are speaking of the contemplative life as
it concerns man. And between men and Angels there is, as S. Denis
says, this difference--that whereas an Angel knows the truth by one
simple act of intelligence, man, on the contrary, only arrives at a
knowledge of the simple truth by arguing from many premises. Hence the
contemplative life has only a single act in which it finds its final
perfection--namely, the contemplation of the truth--and from this one
act it derives its oneness. But at the same time it has many acts by
means of which it arrives at this final act. Of these various acts, some
are concerned with the establishment of principles from which the mind
proceeds to the contemplation of truth; others, again, are concerned
with deducing from these principles that truth the knowledge of which is
sought. But the ultimate act, the complement of the foregoing, is the
contemplation of truth.
Some, however, maintain that many acts pertain to the contemplative
1. Richard of S. Victor distinguishes between contemplation,
meditation, and thought. But these all seem to belong to the
But _thought_, according to Richard of S. Victor, seems to
signify the consideration of many things from which a man
intends to gather some single truth. Consequently, under the
term _thought_ may be comprised perceptions by the senses,
whereby we know certain effects--imaginations, too, as well as
investigation of different phenomena by the reason; in a word,
all those things which conduce to a knowledge of the truth we
are in search of. At the same time, according to S.
Augustine, every operation of the intellect may be termed
_thought_. _Meditation_, again, seems to refer to the process of
reasoning from principles which have to do with the truth we
desire to contemplate. And _contemplation_, according to S.
Bernard, means the same thing, although, according to the
Philosopher, every operation of the intellect may be termed
"consideration." But _contemplation_ is concerned with the
simple dwelling upon the truth itself. Hence Richard of S.
Victor says: "_Contemplation_ is the soul's clear, free,
and attentive dwelling upon the truth to be perceived;
_meditation_ is the outlook of the soul occupied in searching
for the truth; _thought _ is the soul's glance, ever prone to
2. Further, the Apostle says: _But we all, beholding the glory of the
Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to
glory._ But this refers to the contemplative life; therefore,
besides the three things already mentioned--namely, contemplation,
meditation and thought,--_speculation_, too, enters into the
But _speculation_, as S. Augustine's Gloss has it, "is
derived from _speculum_, a 'mirror,' not from _specula_, a
'watch-tower.'" To see a thing in a mirror, however, is to see a
cause by an effect in which its likeness is shown; thus
_speculation_ seems reducible to _meditation_.
3. Again, S. Bernard says: "The first and chiefest contemplation is
the marvelling at God's Majesty." But to "marvel" is, according to S.
John Damascene, a species of fear. Consequently it seems that many
acts belong to contemplation.
But wonderment is a species of fear arising from our learning
something which it is beyond our powers to understand. Hence
wonderment is an act subsequent to the contemplation of sublime
truth, whereas contemplation reaches its goal in the affective
4. Lastly, prayer, reading, and meditation seem to belong to the
contemplative life. Devout hearing, too, belongs to it, for it is said
of Mary, who is the type of the contemplative life, that _sitting at the
Lord's feet, she heard His word_.
Man, however, arrives at the knowledge of truth in two ways:
first of all, by receiving things from others; as regards, then,
the things a man receives from God: prayer is necessary,
according to the words: _I called upon God, and the spirit of
Wisdom came upon me_. And as for the things he receives
from men: hearing is necessary if he receive them from one who
speaks, reading is necessary if it be question of what is handed
down in Holy Scripture. And secondly, a man arrives at the
knowledge of truth by his own personal study, and for this is
"Uni trinoque Domino
Sit sempiterna gloria!
Qui vitam sine termino
Nobis donet in Patria!"
* * * * *
_S. Augustine:_ As long, then, as _we are absent from the Lord, we walk
by faith and not by sight_, whence it is said: _The just man shall
live in his faith._ And this is our justice as long as we are on
our pilgrimage--namely, that here now by the uprightness and perfection
with which we walk we strive after that perfection and fulness of
justice where, in all the glory of its beauty, will be full and perfect
charity. Here we chastise our body and bring it into subjection; here we
give alms by conferring benefits and forgiving offences against
ourselves; and we do this with joy and from the heart, and are ever
instant in prayer; and all this we do in the light of that sound
doctrine by which is built up right faith, solid hope, and pure charity.
This, then, is our present justice whereby we run hungering and
thirsting after the perfection and fulness of justice, so that hereafter
we may be filled therewith (_De Perfectione justitiæ Hominis_, viii.
* * * * *
_S. Augustine:_ You know, then, I think, not only how you ought to pray,
but what you ought to pray for; and this not because I teach you, but
because He teaches you Who has deigned to teach us all. The Life of
Beatitude is what we have to seek; this we have to ask for from the Lord
God. And what Beatitude means is, with many, a source of much dispute.
But why should we appeal to the many and their many opinions? For
pithily and truly it is said in God's Scripture: _Happy is that people
whose God is the Lord!_ Oh, that we may be counted amongst _that
people_! Oh, that we may be enabled to contemplate Him, and may come one
day to live with Him unendingly! _The end of the commandment is charity
from a pure heart and a good conscience, and an unfeigned faith._
And among these three, hope stands for _a good conscience_. Faith,
therefore, with hope and charity, leads to God the man who prays--that
is, the man who believes, who hopes, and who desires, and who in the
_Lord's Prayer_ meditates what he should ask from the Lord (_Ep._ cxxx.
"For my heart hath been inflamed, and my reins have been
changed: and I am brought to nothing, and I knew not. I am
become as a beast before Thee; and I am always with Thee. Thou
hast held me by my right hand; and by Thy will Thou hast
conducted me; and with glory Thou hast received me. For what
have I in Heaven? and besides Thee what do I desire upon earth?
For Thee my flesh and my heart hath fainted away; Thou art the
God of my heart; and the God that is my portion for ever. For
behold they that go far from Thee shall perish; Thou hast
destroyed all them that are disloyal to Thee. But it is good for
me to adhere to my God, to put my hope in the Lord God: that I
may declare all Thy praises, in the gates of the daughter of
Does the Contemplative Life consist solely in the Contemplation of God,
or in the Consideration of other Truths as well?
S. Gregory says: "In contemplation it is the Principle--namely,
God--which is sought."
A thing may come under the contemplative life in two ways: either
primarily, or secondarily--that is, dispositively. Now primarily the
contemplation of Divine Truth belongs to the contemplative life, since
such contemplation is the goal of all human life. Hence S. Augustine
says: "The contemplation of God is promised to us as the goal of
all our acts and the eternal consummation of all our joys." And this
will be perfect in the future life when we shall see God face to
face--when, consequently, it will render us perfectly blessed. But in
our present state the contemplation of Divine Truth belongs to us only
imperfectly--namely, _through a glass and in a dark manner_; it causes
in us now a certain commencement of beatitude, which begins here, to be
continued in the future. Hence even the Philosopher makes the
ultimate happiness of man consist in the contemplation of the highest
But since we are led to a contemplation of God by the consideration of
His Divine works--_The invisible things of God ... are clearly seen,
being understood by the things that are made_--it follows also that
the contemplation of the Divine works belongs in a secondary sense to
the contemplative life--according, namely, as by it we are led to the
knowledge of God. For this reason S. Augustine says: "In the study
of created things we must not exercise a mere idle and passing
curiosity, but must make them a stepping-stone to things that are
immortal and that abide for ever."
Thus from what we have said it is clear that four things belong, and
that in a certain sequence, to the contemplative life: firstly, the
moral virtues; secondly, other acts apart from that of contemplation;
thirdly, the contemplation of the Divine works; and fourthly--and this
is the crown of them all--the actual contemplation of the Divine Truth.
Some, however, say that the contemplative life is not merely confined to
the contemplation of God but is extended to the consideration of any
truth whatsoever, thus:
1. In Ps. cxxxviii. 14 we read: _Wonderful are Thy works! My soul
knoweth right well!_ But the knowledge of the works of God is derived
from a certain contemplation of the truth. Whence it would seem that it
belongs to the contemplative life to contemplate not only the Divine
Truth, but also any other truth we please.
But David sought the knowledge of God's works that he might
thereby be led to God Himself, as he says elsewhere: _I
meditated on all Thy works, I mused upon the works of Thy hands;
I stretched forth my hands to Thee._
2. Again, S. Bernard says: "The first point in contemplation is to
marvel at God's majesty; the second, at His judgments; the third, at His
benefits; the fourth, at His promises." But of these only the first
comes under the Divine Truth--the rest are effects of it.
But from the consideration of the Divine judgments a man is led
to the contemplation of the Divine justice; and from a
consideration of the Divine benefits and promises a man is led
to a knowledge of the Divine mercy and goodness, as it were by
effects either already shown or to be shown.
3. Once more, Richard of S. Victor distinguishes six kinds of
contemplation; the first is according to the imagination simply, when,
namely, we consider corporeal things; the second is in the imagination
directed by the reason, as when we consider the harmony and arrangement
of the things of the senses; the third is in the reason, but based on
the imagination, as when by the consideration of visible things we are
uplifted to the invisible; the fourth is in the reason working on the
things of the reason, as when the soul occupies itself with invisible
things unknown to the imagination; the fifth is above the reason, but
not beyond its grasp, when, for instance, we know by Divine Revelation
things which cannot be comprehended by the human reason; and the sixth
is above the reason and beyond its grasp, as when by Divine illumination
we know things which are apparently repugnant to human reason--for
example, the things we are told concerning the mystery of the Holy
And only the last named of these seems to come under Divine Truth;
consequently contemplation of the truth is not limited to Divine Truth,
but extends also to those truths which we consider in created things.
But by these six are signified the steps by which we ascend
through created things to the contemplation of God. For in the
first we have the perception of the things of sense; in the
second, the progress from the things of sense to the things of
the intellect; in the third judgment upon the things of sense
according to intellectual principles; in the fourth, the simple
consideration of intellectual truths at which we have arrived by
means of the things of sense; in the fifth, the contemplation of
intellectual truths to which we could not attain by the things
of sense, but which can be grasped by reason; in the sixth, the
contemplation of intellectual truths such as the reason can
neither find nor grasp--truths, namely, which belong to the
sublime contemplation of the Divine Truth, in which
contemplation is finally perfected.
4. Lastly, in the contemplative life the contemplation of truth is
sought as being man's perfection. But any truth whatsoever is a
perfection of the human intellect. Consequently the contemplative life
consists in the contemplation of any kind of truth whatsoever.
But the ultimate perfection of the human intellect is the Divine
Truth; other truths perfect the intellect by way of preparation
for the Divine Truth.
* * * * *
_S. Augustine:_ Martha, Martha, thou hast chosen a good part, but Mary
hath chosen the better. Yours is good--for it is good to busy oneself
with waiting on the Saints--but hers is better. What you have chosen
will pass away at length. You minister to the hungry, you minister to
the thirsty, you make the beds for them that would sleep, you find
house-room for them that need it--but all these things will pass away!
For there will come a time when none will hunger, when none will thirst,
when none will sleep. And then thy care will be taken from thee. But
Mary hath chosen the better part, which shall never be taken from her!
It shall not be taken away, for she chose to live the life of
contemplation, she chose to live by the Word. What kind of life will
that be that flows from the Word without spoken word? Here on earth she
drew life from the Word, but through the medium of the spoken word. Then
will be life, from the Word indeed, but with no spoken word. For the
Word Himself is life. _We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He
is_ (_Sermon_, CLXIX., xiv. 17).
* * * * *
_S. Augustine: One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek
after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my
Whosoever asks for This One Thing and seeks after It prays with sure and
certain confidence; nor need he fear lest, when he shall have obtained
It, he shall find It disagreeable to him, for without It naught that he
prays for as he ought, and obtains, is of any avail. For this is the
one, true, and only Blessed Life--to contemplate the delights of the
Lord for eternity, in immortality and incorruptibility of body as well
as soul. For the sake of This One Thing are all other things to be
sought after, and only thus our petitions for them are rendered not
unbecoming. Whosoever hath this One Thing will have all that he wishes
for, nor indeed will he be able to wish there for anything which is
unfitting. For there is the Fountain of Life, for which we must now
thirst in prayer as long as we live by hope--as long, too, as we see not
What we hope for. For we dwell 'neath the shadow of His wings before
Whom is all our desire, that so we _may be inebriated with the plenty
of_ His _house, and may drink of the torrent of_ His _pleasure: for
with_ Him _is the Fountain of Life, and in_ His _light we shall see
light._ Then shall our desire be sated with all good things, then
will there be naught for us to seek for with groanings, but only What we
shall cling to with joy. Yet none the less, since this is _the peace
that surpasseth all understanding_, even when praying for it _we know
not what we should pray for as we ought_ (_Ep._ cxxx. _ad probam_).
"He shall cast death down headlong for ever: and the Lord God
shall wipe away tears from every face, and the reproach of His
people He shall take away from off the whole earth: for the Lord
hath spoken it. And they shall say in that day: Lo, this is our
God, we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the
Lord, we have patiently waited for Him, we shall rejoice and be
joyful in His salvation."
Can the Contemplative Life attain, according to the State of this
Present Life, to the Contemplation of the Divine Essence?
S. Gregory says: "As long as we live in this mortal flesh none of
us can make such progress in the virtue of contemplation as to fix his
mind's gaze on that Infinite Light."
S. Augustine also says: "No one who looks on God lives with that
life with which we mortals live in the bodily senses; but unless he be
in some sort dead to this life, whether as having wholly departed from
the body, or as rapt away from the bodily senses, he is not uplifted to
A man, then, can be "in this life" in two ways: he can be in it
actually--that is, as actually using his bodily senses--and when he is
thus "in the body" no contemplation such as belongs to this present life
can attain to the vision of the Essence of God; or a man may be "in this
life" potentially, and not actually; that is, his soul may be joined to
his body as its informing principle, but in such fashion that it neither
makes use of the bodily senses nor even of the imagination, and this is
what takes place when a man is rapt in ecstasy: in this sense
contemplation such as belongs to this life can attain to the vision of
the Divine Essence.
Consequently the highest degree of contemplation which is compatible
with the present life is that which S. Paul had when he was rapt in
ecstasy and stood midway between the state of this present life and the
Some, however, say that the contemplative life can, even according to
our present state of life, attain to the vision of the Divine Essence,
1. Jacob said: _I have seen God face to face, and my soul hath been
saved._ But the vision of the face of God is the vision of the
Divine Essence. Whence it would seem that a man may by contemplation
actually reach, even during this present life, to the vision of the
Essence of God.
But S. Denis says: "If anyone saw God and understood what
he saw, then it was not God he saw, but something belonging to
Him." And similarly S. Gregory says: "Almighty God is never
seen in His Glory, but the soul gazes at something derived from
It, and thus refreshed, makes advance, and so ultimately arrives
at the glory of vision." Hence when Jacob said, _I saw God face
to face_, we are not to understand that he saw the Essence of
God, but that he saw some appearance--that is, some imaginary
appearance--in which God spoke to him; or, as the Gloss of S.
Gregory has it, "Since we know people by the face, Jacob
called knowledge of God His face."
2. Further, S. Gregory says: "Contemplative men turn back within
upon themselves in that they search into spiritual things, and do not
carry with them the shadows of things corporeal; or if perchance they
touch them, they drive them away with discreet hands. But when they
would look upon the Infinite Light, they put aside all images which
limit It, and in striving to arrive at a height superior to themselves,
they become conquerors of their nature." But a man is only withheld from
the vision of the Divine Essence, which is Infinite Light, by the
necessity he is under of turning to corporeal images. From this it would
seem that contemplation can, even in this present life, arrive at the
sight of the Infinite Essential Light.
But human contemplation according to this present state cannot
exist without recourse to the imagination, for it is in
accordance with man's nature that he should see intelligible
forms through the medium of pictures in the imagination, as also
the Philosopher teaches. Yet intellectual knowledge does
not consist in such images, rather does the intellect
contemplate in them the purity of intelligible truth; and this
is not merely the case in natural knowledge, but also in those
things which we know by revelation. For S. Denis says: "The
Divine Light manifests to us the Angelic hierarchies by means of
symbolical figures by force of which we are restored to the
simple ray," that is, to the simple knowledge of intelligible
truth. It is thus that we ought to understand S. Gregory's words
when he says: "In contemplation men do not carry with them the
shadows of things corporeal," for their contemplation does not
abide in these things but rather in the consideration of
3. Lastly, S. Gregory says: "To the soul that looks upon its
Creator all created things are but narrow. Consequently the man of
God--namely, the Blessed Benedict--who saw in a tower a fiery globe and
the Angels mounting up to Heaven, was doubtless only able to see these
things by the light of God." But the Blessed Benedict was then still in
this life. Consequently contemplation, even in this present life, can
attain to the vision of the Essence of God.
But we are not to understand from S. Gregory's words that the
Blessed Benedict saw the Essence of God in that vision; S.
Gregory wishes to show that since "to him who looks upon his
Creator all created things are but as nothing," it follows that
certain things can easily be seen by the illumination afforded
by the Divine Light. Hence he adds: "For, however little of the
Creator's Light he sees, all created things become of small
Veni Sancte Spiritus
Et emitte coelitus
Lucis Tuæ radium!
O Lux Beatissima
Reple cordis intima
_S. Augustine:_ And thus, the remaining burden of this mortal life being
laid aside at death, man's happiness will, in God's own time, be
perfected from every point of view--that happiness which is begun in
this life, and to the attainment and securing of which at some future
time our every effort must now tend (_Of the Sermon on the Mount_, II.,
"The old error is passed away; Thou wilt keep peace: peace,
because we have hoped in Thee. You have hoped in the Lord for
evermore, in the Lord God mighty for ever. And in the way of Thy
judgments, O Lord, we have patiently waited for Thee: Thy Name,
and Thy remembrance are the desire of the soul. My soul hath
desired Thee in the night: yea, and with my spirit within me in
the morning early I will watch to Thee."
Is the Act of Contemplation Rightly Distinguished According to the Three
Kinds of Motion--Circular, Direct, and Oblique?
S. Denis the Areopagite does so distinguish the acts of
The operation of the intellect in which contemplation essentially
consists is termed "motion" in the sense that motion is the act of a
perfect thing, according to the Philosopher. And since we arrive at
a knowledge of intelligible things through the medium of the things of
sense, and the operations of the senses do not take place without
motion, it follows that the operations also of the intellect are
correctly described as a species of motion, and are differentiated
according to the analogy of divers motions. But the more perfect and the
chiefest of bodily motions are local motions, as is proved by the
Philosopher. Consequently the chief intellectual motions are
described according to the analogy of these latter.
Now, there are three species of local motion: one is circular, according
as a thing is moved uniformly about the same centre; another is direct,
according as a thing proceeds from one point to another; and a third is
oblique, compounded as it were from the two foregoing.
Hence in intelligible operations, that which simply has uniformity is
attributed to circular motion; that intellectual motion by which a man
proceeds from one thing to another is attributed to direct motion; while
that intellectual operation which has a certain uniformity combined with
progress towards different points, is attributed to oblique motion.
All, however, do not agree with this division, thus:
1. Contemplation means a state of repose, as is said in _Wisdom_:
_When I go into my house I shall repose myself with Her._ And motion is
opposed to repose. Consequently the operations of the contemplative life
cannot be designated according to these different species of motion.
But whereas external bodily movements are opposed to that repose
of contemplation which is understood to be rest from external
occupations, the motion of intellectual operations belongs
precisely to the repose of contemplation.
2. Again, the action of the contemplative life pertains to the intellect
wherein man is at one with the Angels. But S. Denis does not apply these
motions to the Angels in the same way as he does to the soul; for he
says that the _circular_ motion of the Angels "corresponds to the
illumination of the beautiful and the good." But of the _circular_
motion of the soul he gives several definitions, of which the first is
"the return of the soul upon itself as opposed to external things"; the
second is "a certain wrapping together of the powers of the soul whereby
it is freed from error and from external occupation"; and the third is
"the union of the soul with things superior to it." Similarly, he speaks
in different terms of the _direct_ motion of the soul as compared with
that of the Angels. For he says that the _direct_ motion of an Angel is
"according as he proceeds to the care of the things subject to him";
while the _direct_ motion of the soul is made to consist in two things:
first of all "that it proceeds to those things which are around it";
secondly, that "from external things it is uplifted to simple
contemplation." And lastly, he explains the _oblique_ motion differently
in each case. For he makes the _oblique_ motion of the Angels consist in
this that, "while providing for those that have less than themselves,
they remain in the same attitude towards God"; but the _oblique_ motion
of the soul he explains as meaning that "the soul is illumined by Divine
knowledge rationally and diffusely."
Consequently it does not appear that the operations of contemplation are
fittingly distinguished according to the aforesaid species of motion.
But while man's intellect is generally the same with that of the
Angels, the intellectual powers of the latter are far higher
than in man. It was therefore necessary to assign the aforesaid
motions to human souls and to the Angels in different fashion in
proportion as their intellectual powers are not uniform. For the
Angelic intellect has uniform knowledge in two respects:
firstly, because the Angels do not acquire intelligible truth
from the variety of compound things; and secondly, because they
do not understand intelligible truth discursively, but by simple
intuition. Whereas the intellect of the human soul, on the
contrary, acquires intelligible truth from the things of sense,
and understands it by the discursive action of the reason.
Hence S. Denis assigns to the Angels circular motion in that
they uniformly and unceasingly, without beginning or end, gaze
upon God; just as circular motion, which has neither beginning
nor end, is uniformly maintained round the same central point.
But in the case of the human soul, its twofold lack of
uniformity must be removed before it can attain to the
above-mentioned uniformity. For there must first be removed that
lack of uniformity which arises from the diversity of external
things: that is, the soul must quit external things. And this S.
Denis expresses first of all in his definition of the circular
motion of the soul when he speaks of "the return of the soul
upon itself as opposed to external things." And there must be
removed in the second place that second lack of uniformity which
arises from the discursive action of the reason. And this takes
place when all the operations of the soul are reduced to the
simple contemplation of intelligible truth. This forms the
second part of S. Denis's definition of this circular
motion--namely, when he speaks of the necessity of "a certain
wrapping together of the powers of the soul," with the result
that, when discursive action thus ceases, the soul's gaze is
fixed on the contemplation of the one simple truth. And in this
operation of the soul there is no room for error, just as there
is no room for error in our understanding of first principles
which we know by simple intuition.
Then, when these first two steps have been taken, S. Denis puts
in the third place that uniformity, like to that of the Angels,
by which the soul, laying aside all else, persists in the simple
contemplation of God. And this he expresses when he says: "Then,
as now made uniform, it, as a whole"--that is, as conformed (to
God)--"is, with all its powers unified, led by the hand to the
Beautiful and the Good."
But the _direct_ motion in the Angels cannot be understood in
the sense that, by considering, they proceed from one point to
another; but solely according to the order of their providential
care for others--according, namely, as the superior Angels
illumine the inferior through those who stand between. And this
is what S. Denis means when he says that the _direct_ motion of
an Angel is "according as he proceeds to the care of the things
subject to him, taking in his course all things that are direct"
following--that is, those things which are disposed in direct
order. But to the human soul S. Denis assigns _direct_ motion in
the sense that it proceeds from the exterior things of sense to
the knowledge of intelligible things.
And he assigns _oblique_ motion to the Angels--a motion, that
is, compounded of the _direct_ and the _circular_--inasmuch as
an Angel, according to his contemplation of God, provides for
those inferior to him. To the human soul, on the contrary, he
assigns this same _oblique_ motion, similarly compounded of the
_direct_ and the _circular_ motions, inasmuch as in its
reasonings it makes use of the Divine illuminations.
3. Lastly, Richard of S. Victor gives many other and different
kinds of motion. For, following the analogy of the birds of the air, he
says of these latter that "some at one time ascend on high, at another
swoop down to earth, and they do this again and again; others turn now
to the right, now to the left, and this repeatedly; others go in
advance, others fall behind; some sail round and round in circles, now
narrower and now wider; while others again remain almost immovably
suspended in one place." From all which it would seem that there are not
merely three movements in contemplation.
But all these diversities of motion which are expressed by, up
and down, to right and left, backwards and forwards, and in
varying circles, are reducible either to _direct_ or to
_oblique_ motion, for they all signify the discursive action of
the reason. For if this discursive action be from the genus to
the species or from the whole to the part, it will be, as
Richard of S. Victor himself explains, motion upwards and
downwards. If, again, it means argumentation from one thing to
its opposite, it will come under motion to right and left. Or if
it be deduction from cause to effect, then it will be motion
backwards and forwards. And finally, if it mean arguing from the
accidents which surround a thing, whether nearly or remotely, it
will be circuitous motion. But the discursive action of the
reason arguing from the things of sense to intelligible things
according to the orderly progress of the natural reason, belongs
to _direct_ motion. When, however, it arises from Divine
illuminations, it comes under _oblique_ motion, as we have
already said (in the reply to the second argument). Lastly, only
the immobility which he mentions will come under _circular_
Whence it appears that S. Denis has quite sufficiently, and with
exceeding subtlety, described the movements of contemplation.
"For behold my witness is in Heaven, and He that knoweth my
conscience is on high. For behold short years pass away, and I
am walking in a path by which I shall not return."
Has Contemplation its Joys?
In Wisdom viii. 16 we read: _Her conversation hath no bitterness, nor
Her company any tediousness, but joy and gladness._ And S. Gregory
says: "The contemplative life means a truly lovable sweetness."
There are two sources of pleasure in contemplation; for, firstly, there
is the very act of contemplating, and everyone finds a certain pleasure
in the performance of acts which are appropriate to his nature or to his
habits. And the contemplation of truth is natural to man as a rational
animal; hence it is that "all men naturally desire to know," and
consequently find a pleasure in the knowledge of truth. And this
pleasure is enhanced according as a man has habits of wisdom and
knowledge which enable him to indulge in contemplation without
Secondly, contemplation is pleasurable owing to the object which we
contemplate, as when a man looks at something which he loves. And this
holds good of even bodily vision, for not only is the mere exercise of
the visual faculties pleasurable, but the seeing people whom we love is
Since, then, the contemplative life especially consists in the
contemplation of God, to which contemplation we are moved by charity, it
follows that the contemplative life is not merely pleasurable by reason
of the simple act of contemplating, but also by reason of Divine Love
Itself. And in both these respects the delights of contemplation exceed
all other human delights. For on the one hand spiritual delights are
superior to carnal delights; and on the other hand, the love of Divine
charity wherewith we love God exceeds all other love; whence it is said
in the Psalm: _Taste and see that the Lord is sweet._
Some maintain, however, that contemplation is not pleasurable, thus:
1. Pleasure belongs to the appetitive powers, whereas contemplation is
mainly in the intellect.
But while the contemplative life mainly consists in the
intellect, it derives its principle from the affective powers,
since a man is moved to contemplation by love of God. And since
the end corresponds to the principle, it follows that the goal
and term of the contemplative life is in the affective powers,
in the sense, namely, that a man finds a pleasure in the sight
of a thing which he loves, and this very pleasure stirs up in
him a yet greater love. Hence S. Gregory says: "When a man
sees one whom he loves his love is yet more enkindled." And in
this lies the full perfection of the contemplative life: that
the Divine Truth should not only be seen but loved.
2. Again, strife and contention hinder delight. But in contemplation
there is strife and contention, for S. Gregory says: "The soul,
when it strives after the contemplation of God, finds itself engaged in
a species of combat; at one time it seems to prevail, for by
understanding and by feeling it tastes somewhat of the Infinite Light;
at other times it is overwhelmed, for when it has tasted it faints."
It is true indeed that contest and strife arising from the
opposition presented by external things prevent us from finding
pleasure in those same things. For no man finds a pleasure in
the things against which he fights. But he does find a pleasure,
other things being equal, in the actual attainment of a thing
for which he has striven; thus S. Augustine says: "The
greater the danger in the battle, the greater the joy in the
triumph." And in contemplation the strife and the combat do not
arise from any opposition on the part of the truth which we
contemplate, but from our deficient understanding and from the
corruptible nature of our bodies which ever draw us down to
things beneath us: _The corruptible body is a load upon the
soul, and the earthly habitation presseth down the mind that
museth upon many things._ Hence it is that when a man
attains to the contemplation of truth he loves it still more
ardently; but at the same time he more than ever hates his own
defects and the sluggishness of his corruptible body, so that
with the Apostle he cries out: _Unhappy man that I am! Who shall
deliver me from the body of this death?_ Hence, too, S.
Gregory says: "When God is known by our desires and our
understanding, He causes all pleasures of the flesh to wither up
3. But again, delight follows upon a perfect work. But
contemplation on this earth is imperfect, according to the words of the
Apostle: _We see now through a glass in a dark manner._ Hence it
would seem that the contemplative life does not afford delight.
It is indeed true that the contemplation of God during this life
is imperfect compared with our contemplation of Him in our
eternal home; and in the same way it is true that the delights
of contemplation here on earth are imperfect compared with the
delights of contemplation in that home, of which latter joys the
Psalmist says: _Thou shalt make them drink of the torrent of Thy
pleasure._ Yet, none the less, the contemplation of Divine
things here on earth is, although imperfect, far more perfect
than any other subject of contemplation howsoever perfect it may
be, and this by reason of the excellence of what we contemplate.
Whence the Philosopher says: "It may indeed be the case
that with regard to such noble existences and Divine substances
we have to be content with insignificant theories, yet even
though we but barely touch upon them, none the less so ennobling
is such knowledge that it affords us greater delight than any
other which is accessible to us." Hence, too, S. Gregory says:
"The contemplative life has its most desirable sweetness which
uplifts the soul above itself, opens the way to heavenly things,
and makes spiritual things plain to the eyes of the soul."
4. Lastly, bodily injuries are a hindrance to delight. But contemplation
is productive of bodily injuries, for we read in Genesis that
Jacob, after saying _I have seen God face to face, ... halted on his
foot ... because He touched the sinew of his thigh and it shrank_.
Whence it would seem that the contemplative life is not pleasurable.
But after that contemplation Jacob halted on one foot because,
as S. Gregory says, "it must needs be that as the love of this
world grows weaker, so a man grows stronger in his love of God,"
and consequently, "when once we have known the sweetness of God,
one of our feet remains sound while the other halts; for a man
who halts with one foot leans only on the one that is
"Tu esto nostrum gaudium
Qui es futurus Præmium.
Sit nostra in Te gloria
Per cuncta semper sæcula!"
* * * * *
_S. Gregory:_ Between the delights of the body and those of the heart
there is ever this difference that the delights of the body are wont,
when we have them not, to beget a keen yearning for them; but when we
have them and eat our fill, they straightway beget disgust for them, for
we are sated therewith. Spiritual joys, on the contrary, when we have
them not are a weariness, but when we have them we desire them still
more, and the more we feed upon them the more we hunger after them. In
the case of the former, the yearning for them was a pleasure, trial of
them brought disgust. In the case of the latter, in desire we held them
cheap, trial of them proved a source of pleasure. For spiritual joys
increase the soul's desire of them even while they sate us, for the more
their savour is perceived, the more we know what it is we ought eagerly
to love. Whence it comes to pass that when we have them not we cannot
love them, for their savour is unknown to us. For how can a man love
what he is ignorant of? Wherefore the Psalmist admonishes us, saying: _O
taste and see that the Lord is sweet!_ As though he would say to us
in plain terms: You know not His sweetness if ye have never tasted it;
touch, then, the Food of Life with the palate of your soul that so,
making proof of Its sweetness, ye may be able to love It.
These joys man lost when he sinned in Paradise; he went out when he
closed his mouth to the Food of Eternal Sweetness. Whence we too, who
are born amidst the toils of this pilgrimage, come without relish to
this Food; we know not what we ought to desire, and the sickness of our
disgust grows the more the further our souls keep away from feeding upon
that Sweetness; and less and less does our soul desire those interior
joys the longer it has grown accustomed to do without them. We sicken,
then, by reason of our very disgust, and we are wearied by the
long-drawn sickness of our hunger (_Hom._ XXXVI., _On the Gospels_).
Is the Contemplative Life lasting?
The Lord said _Mary hath chosen the best part which shall not be taken
away from her_ because, as S. Gregory says: "Contemplation begins
here below that it may be perfected in our heavenly home."
A thing may be termed "lasting" in two ways: from its very nature, or as
far as we are concerned. As far as its nature is concerned, the
contemplative life is lasting in two ways: for first of all it is
concerned with incorruptible and unchangeable things, and in the second
place there is nothing which is its contrary: for, as Aristotle
says: "To the pleasure which is derived from thought there is no
And also as far as we are concerned the contemplative life is lasting;
and this both because it comes under the action of the incorruptible
portion of our soul--namely, our intellect--and so can last after this
life; and also because in the work of the contemplative life there is no
bodily toil, and we can consequently apply ourselves more continuously
to such work, as also the Philosopher remarks.
Some, however, argue that the contemplative life is not lasting, thus:
1. The contemplative life essentially concerns the intellect. But all
the intellectual perfections of this life will be _made void_, as we
read: _Whether prophecies shall be made void, or tongues shall cease, or
knowledge shall be destroyed._
But the fashion of contemplation here and in our Father's home
is not the same; and the contemplative life is said "to last" by
reason of charity, which is both its principle and its end;
wherefore S. Gregory says: "The contemplative life begins here
below that it may be perfected in our heavenly home, for the
fire of love which begins to burn here below, when it sees Him
Whom it loves, burns yet more strongly with love of Him."
2. Again, men but taste the sweetness of contemplation here, snatching
at it, as it were, and in passing: whence S. Augustine says: "Thou
introducest me to a most unwonted affection within me, to an unspeakable
sweetness; yet I fall back again as though dragged down by a grievous
weight!" And S. Gregory, expounding those words of Job, _When a
spirit passed before me_, says: "The mind does not long remain
steadfastly occupied with the sweetness of intimate contemplation, for
it is recalled to itself, stricken back by the immensity of that Light."
The contemplative life, then, is not lasting.
It is true indeed that no action can remain long at the pitch of
its intensity. And the goal of contemplation is to attain to the
uniformity of Divine contemplation, as Denis the Areopagite
says. Hence, although in this sense contemplation cannot
last long, yet it can last long as regards its other acts.
3. Lastly, what is not natural to a man cannot be lasting. "But the
contemplative life," as the Philosopher says, "is beyond man."
But the Philosopher says that the contemplative life is "beyond
man" in the sense that it belongs to us according to what is
Divine in us--namely, our intellect; for our intellect is
incorruptible and impassible in itself, and consequently its
action can be more lasting.
* * * * *
_S. Augustine:_ This day sets before us the great mystery of our eternal
beatitude. For that life which this day signifies will not pass away as
to-day is to pass away. Wherefore, brethren, we exhort and beseech you
by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ by Whom our sins are forgiven, by
Him Who willed that His Blood should be our ransom, by Him Who has
deigned that we who are not deserving to be called His slaves should yet
be called His brethren--we beseech you that your entire aim, that which
gives you your very name of "Christian," and by reason of which you bear
His Name upon your foreheads and in your hearts, may be directed solely
to that life which we are to share with the Angels; that life where is
to be unending repose, everlasting joy, unfailing happiness, rest
without disturbance, joy without sadness, no death. What that life is
none can know save those who have made trial of it; and none can make
trial of it save those who have faith (_Sermon_, CCLIX., _On Low
"And thou shalt say in that day: I will give thanks to Thee, O
Lord, for Thou wast angry with me: Thy wrath is turned away, and
Thou hast comforted me. Behold, God is my Saviour. I will deal
confidently, and will not fear: because the Lord is my strength,
and my praise, and He is become my salvation. You shall draw
waters with joy out of the Saviour's fountains: And you shall
say in that day: Praise ye the Lord, and call upon His Name:
make His works known among the people: remember that His Name is
high. Sing ye to the Lord, for He hath done great things: shew
this forth in all the earth. Rejoice, and praise, O thou
habitation of Sion: for great is He that is in the midst of
thee, the holy One of Israel."
 _Moralia in Job_, vi. 18.
 _Hom._ XIV., _On Ezechiel_.
 _Metaphysics_, ii. 3.
 _Moralia in Job_, vi. 18; and _Hom._ XIV., _On Ezechiel_.
 _On Ezechiel, loc. cit._
 _Hom._ XIV., _On Ezechiel_.
 Isa. xxxiii. 13-17.
 Ps. xli. 1-6.
 _Moralia in Job_, vi. 18.
 _Ethics_, II., iv. 3.
 _Ibid._, X., viii. 1.
 _Hom._ XIV., _On Ezechiel_.
 Rom. xiii. 10.
 S. Matt. v. 8.
 Heb. xii. 14.
 Isa. xxxii. 17.
 _Hom._ XIV., _On Ezechiel_.
 Gen. xxix. 17.
 _De Officiis_, i. 43, 45, 46.
 Wisd. viii. 2.
 _Soliloquies_, i. 10.
 Jer. xiv. 8, 9.
 _Of the Divine Names_, vii. 2.
 _On Contemplation_, i. 3 and 4.
 _De Trinitate_, xiv. 7.
 _De Consideratione_, ii. 2.
 _De Anima_, II., i. 2.
 _Loc. cit._, i. 4.
 2 Cor. iii. 18.
 _De Trinitate_, xv. 8.
 _De Consideratione_, v. 14.
 _De Fide Orthodoxa_, ii. 15.
 S. Luke x. 39.
 Wisd. vii. 7.
 2 Cor. v. 6-7.
 Hab. ii. 4.
 Ps. cxliii. 15.
 1 Tim. i. 5.
 Ps. lxxii. 21-28.
 _Moralia in Job_, vi. 28.
 _On the Trinity_, i. 8.
 _Ethics_, X., vii. 2.
 Rom. i. 20.
 _De Vera Religione_, xxix.
 Ps. cxlii. 5, 6.
 _De Consideratione_, v. 14.
 _Of Contemplation_, i. 6.
 1 John iii. 2.
 Ps. xxvi. 4.
 Ps. xxxv. 9, 10.
 Phil. iv. 7; Rom. viii. 26.
 Isa. xxv. 8, 9.
 _Hom._ XIV., _On Ezechiel_.
 _De Genesi ad Litt._, xii. 27.
 Gen. xxxii. 30.
 _Epistola I., to Caius the Monk._
 _Hom._ XIV., _On Ezechiel_.
 The _Glossa Ordinaria_, taken from S. Gregory's _Moralia in Job_,
 _Moralia_, vi. 27.
 _De Anima_, III., vii. 3.
 _Dialogues_, ii. 35.
 Isa. xxvi. 3, 4, 8, 9.
 _Of the Divine Names_, IV., i. 7.
 _De Anima_, III., vii. 1 and 2.
 _Physica_, VIII., vii. 2.
 viii. 16.
 _Of Contemplation_, i. 5.
 Job xvi. 20, 23.
 _Hom._ XIV., _On Ezechiel_.
 Ps. xxxiii. 9.
 _Hom._ XIV., _On Ezechiel_.
 _Conf._, viii. 3.
 Wisd. ix. 15.
 Rom. vii. 24.
 _Hom._ XIV., _On Ezechiel_.
 _Ethics_, X., iv. 6.
 1 Cor. xiii, 12.
 Ps. xxxv. 9.
 _De Partibus Animalium_, i. 5.
 xxxii. 30-32.
 _Hom._ XIV., _On Ezechiel_.
 Ps. xxxiii. 9.
 S. Luke x. 42.
 _Topics_, I., xiii. 5.
 _Ethics_, X., vii. 2.
 1 Cor. xiii. 8.
 _Conf._, x. 40.
 _Of the Divine Names_, IV., i. 7; and _Of the Heavenly Hierarchy_,
 _Ethics_, X., vii. 8.
 Isa. xii. 1-6.
OF THE ACTIVE LIFE
I. Do all Acts of the Moral Virtues come under the Active Life?
II. Does Prudence pertain to the Active Life?
III. Does Teaching belong to the Active or to the Contemplative
IV. Does the Active Life continue after this Life?
Do all Acts of the Moral Virtues come under the Active Life?
S. Isidore says: "In the active life all the vices are first of all
to be removed by the practice of good works, so that in the
contemplative life a man may, with now purified mental gaze, pass to the
contemplation of the Divine Light." But all the vices can only be
removed by the acts of the moral virtues. Consequently the acts of the
moral virtues belong to the active life.
As we have said already, the active and the contemplative lives are
distinguished by the different occupations of men who are aiming at
different ends, one being the consideration of Truth--the goal of the
contemplative life; the other external works with which the active life
is occupied. But it is clear that the moral virtues are not especially
concerned with the contemplation of truth but with action; thus the
Philosopher says: "For virtue, knowledge is of little or no avail."
It is therefore manifest that the moral virtues essentially belong to
the active life; and in accordance with this the Philosopher refers
the moral virtues to active happiness.
Some, however, maintain that all the acts of the moral virtues do not
belong to the active life, thus:
1. The active life seems to consist solely in those things which have to
do with our neighbour; for S. Gregory says: "The active life means
breaking bread to the hungry;" and at the close, after enumerating many
things which have to do with our neighbour, he adds: "And to provide for
each according as they have need." But not by all the acts of the moral
virtues are we brought into contact with others, but only by justice and
its divisions. Consequently all the acts of the moral virtues do not
belong to the active life.
But the chief of the moral virtues is justice, and by it a man
is brought into contact with his neighbour, as the Philosopher
proves. We describe, then, the active life by those things
by means of which we are brought into contact with our
neighbour; yet we do not thereby mean that the active life
consists solely in these things, but chiefly in them.
2. Again, S. Gregory says: "By Lia, who was blear-eyed but
fruitful, is signified the active life which sees less clearly, since
occupied with works; but when, now by word, now by example, it arouses
its neighbour to imitation, it brings forth many children in good
works." But all this seems rather to come under charity, by which we
love our neighbour, than under the moral virtues. Consequently the acts
of the moral virtues seem not to belong to the active life.
But a man can, by acts of all the moral virtues, lead his
neighbour to good works by his example; and this S. Gregory here
attributes to the active life.
3. Lastly, the moral virtues dispose us to the contemplative life. But
disposition to a thing and the perfect attainment of that thing come
under the same head. Consequently the moral virtues do not belong to the
But just as a virtue which is directed towards the end of
another virtue passes over, in some sort, into the species of
that latter virtue, so also when a man uses those things which
belong to the active life precisely as disposing him to
contemplation, then those things which he so uses are comprised
under the contemplative life. But for those who devote
themselves to the works of the moral virtues as being good in
themselves and not as dispositive towards the contemplative
life, the moral virtues belong to the active life. Although at
the same time it might be said that the active life is a
disposition to the contemplative life.
"O death, how bitter is the remembrance of thee to a man that
hath peace in his possessions, to a man that is at rest, and
whose ways are prosperous in all things, and that is yet able to
take meat! O death, thy sentence is welcome to the man that is
in need, and to him whose strength faileth, who is in a decrepit
age, and that is in care about all things, and to the
distrustful that loseth patience! Fear not the sentence of
death. Remember what things have been before thee, and what
shall come after thee: this sentence is from the Lord upon all
flesh. And what shall come upon thee by the good pleasure of the
Most High whether ten, or a hundred, or a thousand years."
Does Prudence pertain to the Active Life?
The Philosopher says that prudence pertains to active happiness,
and to this pertain the moral virtues.
As we have said above, when one thing is directed towards the attainment
of another thing as its end, it--and this especially holds good in
morals--is, so to speak, drawn into the species of that towards which it
is thus directed, thus: "He who commits adultery in order to steal" says
the Philosopher, "is rather a thief than an adulterer." Now it is
clear that that knowledge which is prudence is directed to the acts of
the moral virtues as its end, for prudence is "the right mode of
procedure in our actions;" hence, too, the ends of the moral
virtues are the principles of prudence, as the Philosopher also says in
the same work. In the same way, then, as we said above that in the
case of a man who directs them to the repose of contemplation, the moral
virtues pertain to the contemplative life, so also the knowledge which
is prudence, and which is by its very nature directed to the operations
of the moral virtues, directly pertains to the active life--that is, of
course, on the supposition that prudence is understood in the strict
sense in which the Philosopher speaks of it.
If, however, prudence be understood in a broad sense--namely, as
embracing all kinds of human knowledge--then prudence pertains, at least
in certain of its aspects, to the contemplative life; thus Cicero
says: "The man who can see a truth the most clearly and quickly,
and explain the reason of it, is rightly regarded as most prudent and
But some maintain that prudence does not pertain to the active life,
1. Just as the contemplative life pertains to the cognoscitive powers,
so does the active life pertain to the appetitive powers. But prudence
does not pertain to the appetitive powers but rather to the
cognoscitive. Consequently it does not pertain to the active life.
But moral acts derive their character from the end towards which
they are directed; consequently to the contemplative life
belongs that kind of knowledge which makes its end consist in
the very knowledge of truth. But the knowledge which is
prudence, and which is rather directed to the acts of the
appetitive powers, pertains to the active life.
2. Again, S. Gregory says "The active life, occupied as it is with
works, sees less clearly," and hence is typified by Lia, who was
blear-eyed. But prudence demands clear vision, so that a man may judge
what is to be done. Whence it would seem that prudence does not pertain
to the active life.
But occupation with external things only makes a man see less
clearly those intelligible truths which are not connected with
the things of sense; the external occupations of the active
life, however, make a man see more clearly in his judgment on a
course of action--and this is a question of prudence--for he has
experience, and his mind is attentive: "When you are attentive,"
says Sallust, "then mental acumen avails."
3. Lastly, prudence comes midway betwixt the moral and the intellectual
virtues. But just as the moral virtues pertain to the active life, so do
the intellectual virtues pertain to the contemplative. Hence it would
seem that prudence belongs neither to the active nor to the
contemplative life, but, as S. Augustine says, to a kind of life which
is betwixt and between.
But prudence is said to come betwixt the intellectual and the
moral virtues in the sense that, whereas it has the same subject
as the intellectual virtues, it yet coincides as regards its
object with the moral virtues. And that third species of life
comes betwixt and between the active and the contemplative life
as regards the things with which it is concerned, for at one
time it is occupied with the contemplation of truth, at another
time with external matters.
"For what shall I do when God shall rise to judge? and when He
shall examine, what shall I answer Him? For I have always feared
God as waves swelling over me, and His weight I was not able to
Does Teaching Belong to the Active or to the Contemplative Life?
S. Gregory says: "The active life means breaking bread to the
hungry; teaching words of wisdom to them that know them not."
The act of teaching has a twofold object: for teaching is by speaking,
and speaking is the audible sign of an interior mental concept. One
object, therefore, of our teaching is the matter to be taught, the
object, that is, of our interior concepts; and in this sense teaching
sometimes belongs to the active, sometimes to the contemplative life. It
belongs to the active life if a man forms interiorly some concept of a
truth with a view to thus directing his external acts; but it belongs to
the contemplative life if a man interiorly conceives some intelligible
truth and delights in the thought of it and the love of it. Whence S.
Augustine says: "Let them choose for themselves the better
part--that, namely, of the contemplative life; let them devote
themselves to the Word of God; let them yearn for the sweetness of
teaching; let them occupy themselves with the knowledge that leads to
salvation"--where he clearly says that teaching belongs to the
The second object of teaching arises from the fact that teaching is
given through the medium of audible speech and thus the hearer himself
is the object of the teaching; and from this point of view all teaching
belongs to the active life to which pertain all external actions.
Some, however, regard teaching as rather belonging to the contemplative
than to the active life, thus:
1. S. Gregory says: "Perfect men declare to their brethren those
good things of Heaven which they themselves have been able to
contemplate at least 'through a glass,' and they thus kindle in their
hearts the love of that hidden beauty." Yet what is this but teaching?
To teach, therefore, is an act of the contemplative life.
But S. Gregory expressly speaks here of teaching from the point
of view of the matter that is presented--that is, of teaching as
it is concerned with the consideration of and love of the truth.
2. Again, acts and habits seem to belong to the same kind of life. But
to teach is an act of wisdom, for the Philosopher says: "The proof that
a man knows is that he is able to teach." Since, then, wisdom--that
is, knowledge--pertains to the contemplative life, it would seem that
teaching also must pertain to the contemplative life.
But habits and acts agree in their object, and consequently the
argument just given is based upon the material of the interior
concept. For the capacity for teaching is possessed by a wise or
learned man just in proportion as he can express in outward
words the concepts of his mind and so be able to bring home a
truth to someone else.
3. Lastly, prayer is an act of the contemplative life just in the same
way as is contemplation itself. But prayer, even when one man prays for
another, belongs to the contemplative life. Hence it would seem that
when one man brings to the knowledge of another some truth upon which he
has meditated, such an act pertains to the contemplative life.
But he who prays for another in no way acts upon him for whom he
prays; his acts are directed towards God alone, the Intelligible
Truth. But he who teaches another does act upon him by some
external action. Hence there is no parallel between the two
Does the Active Life continue after this Life?
S. Gregory says: "The active life passes away with this present
world; the contemplative life begins here so as to be perfected in our
As already said, the active life makes its end consist in external
actions, and these, if they are directed towards the repose of
contemplation, already belong to the contemplative life. But in the
future life of the blessed all occupation with external things will
cease; or if there are any external acts they will be directed towards
that end which is contemplation. Hence S. Augustine says, at the close
of his _Of the City of God_: "There we shall be at rest from toil, we
shall gaze, we shall love, we shall praise." And he had just previously
said: "There will God be seen unendingly, be loved without wearying, be
praised without fatigue; this duty, this disposition of soul, this act,
will be the lot of all."
Some, however, maintain that the active life will be continued after
this life, thus:
1. To the active life belong the acts of the moral virtues. But the
moral virtues remain after death, as S. Augustine says.
But the acts of the moral virtues which are concerned with the
means to the end will not remain after death, but only those
which have to do with the end itself. Yet it is precisely these
latter which go to form the repose of contemplation to which S.
Augustine alludes in the above-quoted passage where he speaks of
being "at rest from toil"; and this "rest" is not to be
understood of freedom from merely external disturbances, but
also from the internal conflict of the passions.
2. Again, to teach others pertains to the active life. But in the next
life--where we shall be as the Angels--there can be teaching; for we see
it in the case of the Angels of whom one illumines, clarifies, and
perfects another, all of which refer to their reception of knowledge, as
is clear from Denis the Areopagite. Hence it seems that the active
life is to be continued after this life.
But the contemplative life especially consists in the
contemplation of God; and as regards this no Angel teaches
another, for it is said of the Angels of _the little
ones_--Angels who are of an inferior choir--that _they
always see the face of the Father_. And similarly in the future
life: there no man will teach another about God, for we shall
all _see Him as He is_. And this agrees with the words of
Jeremias: _And they shall teach no more every man his
neighbour ... saying: Know the Lord; for all shall know Me from
the least of them even to the greatest._
But when it is question of dispensing the mysteries of God, then
one Angel can teach another by clarifying, illumining, and
perfecting. And in this sense the Angels do in some sort share
in the active life as long as this world lasts, for they are
occupied with ministering to the inferior creation. This is what
was signified by Jacob's vision of the Angels ascending the
ladder--whereby was meant the contemplative life--and descending
the ladder--whereby was meant the active life. At the same time,
as S. Gregory says: "Not that they so went out from the
Divine Vision as to be deprived of the joys of contemplation."
And thus in their case the active life is not distinguished from
the contemplative as it is in us who find the works of the
active life an impediment to the contemplative life. Moreover,
we are not promised a likeness to the Angels in their work of
administering to the inferior creation, for this does not belong
to us according to our nature, as is the case with the Angels,
but according to our vision of God.
3. Lastly, the more durable a thing is the more capable it seems of
lasting after this life. But the active life is more durable than the
contemplative, for S. Gregory says: "We can remain steadfast in the
active life, but in nowise can we maintain the mind's fixed gaze in the
contemplative life." Consequently the active life is much more capable
of continuing after death than is the contemplative life.
But in our present state the durability of the active life as
compared with the contemplative life does not arise from any
feature of either of these kinds of life considered in
themselves, but from a defect on our part; for we are dragged
down from the heights of contemplation by the body's burden. And
thus S. Gregory goes on to say that, "thrust back by its very
weakness from those vast heights, the soul relapses into
"O bless our God, ye Gentiles: and make the voice of His praise
to be heard. Who hath set my soul to live: and hath not suffered
my feet to be moved. For Thou, O God, hast proved us; Thou hast
tried us by fire, as silver is tried. Thou hast brought us into
a net, Thou hast laid afflictions on our back; Thou hast set men
over our heads. We have passed through fire and water, and Thou
hast brought us out into a refreshment."
 _Of the Supreme Good_, III., xv.
 _Qu._ CLXXIX. 1.
 _Ethics_, II., iv. 3.
 _Ibid._, X., viii. 1.
 _Hom._ XIV., _On Ezechiel_.
 _Ethics_, V., i. 15.
 _Hom._ XIV., _On Ezechiel_.
 Ecclus. xli. 1-6.
 _Ethics._, X., viii. 2.
 _Ibid._, V., ii. 4.
 _Ethics_, VI., v. 4.
 _Ibid._, X., viii. 2.
 _De Officiis_, I., v.
 _Hom._ XIV., _On Ezechiel_.
 _Conjuratio Catilinæ_, li.
 _Of the City of God_, xix. 2, 3, and 19.
 Job xxxi. 14, 23.
 _Hom._ XIV., _On Ezechiel_.
 _On the Words of the Lord, Sermon_ civ., _alias_ xxvii. 1.
 _Hom._ V., _On Ezechiel_.
 _Metaphysics_, I., i. 9.
 _Hom._ XIV., _On Ezechiel_.
 xxii. 30.
 _On the Trinity_, xiv. 9.
 _Of the Heavenly Hierarchy_, vii.
 S. Matt. xviii. 10.
 1 John iii. 2.
 xxxi. 34.
 _Moralia in Job_, ii. 2.
 _Hom._ V., _On Ezechiel_.
 Ps. lxv. 8-12.
OF THE COMPARISON BETWEEN THE ACTIVE AND THE CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE
I. Is the Active Life preferable to the Contemplative?
Cardinal Cajetan, On Preparation for the Contemplative Life
S. Augustine, _Confessions_, X., xliii. 70
" _On Psalm_ xxvi.
II. Is the Active Life more Meritorious than the Contemplative?
III. Is the Active Life a Hindrance to the Contemplative Life?
Cardinal Cajetan, On the True Interior Life
S. Augustine, _Sermon_, CCLVI., v. 6
IV. Does the Active Life precede the Contemplative?
Is the Active Life preferable to the Contemplative?
The Lord said: _Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken
away from her._ And by Mary is signified the contemplative life,
which is consequently to be preferred to the active.
There is no reason why one thing should not be in itself more excellent
than another while yet this latter is, for certain reasons, preferable
to it. Absolutely speaking, then, the contemplative life is better than
the active. And the Philosopher alleges eight proofs of this.
Firstly, that the contemplative life pertains to that which is best in a
man, namely his intellect and its proper objects, _i.e._ intelligible
truths, whereas the active life is concerned with external things. Hence
Rachel, who typifies the contemplative life, is interpreted as meaning
"the Beginning seen"; while Lia, who was blear-eyed, typifies, according
to S. Gregory, the active life.
Secondly, because the contemplative life can be more continuous, even
though we cannot maintain our contemplation at its highest pitch; thus
Mary, who is typical of the contemplative life, is depicted as sitting
ever at the Lord's feet.
Thirdly, because the delights of the contemplative life surpass those of
the active life; whence S. Augustine says: "Martha was troubled,
but Mary feasted."
Fourthly, because in the contemplative life a man is more independent,
since for this kind of life he needs less; whence we read: _Martha,
Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things._
Fifthly, because the contemplative life is loved rather for its own
sake, whereas the active life is directed towards an end other than
itself; whence it is said in Ps. xxvi. 4: _One thing I have asked of the
Lord, this will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life._
Sixthly, because the contemplative life consists in a certain stillness
and repose, as is said in Ps. xlv. 11: _Be still, and see that I am
Seventhly, because the contemplative life is occupied with Divine things
whereas the active life is occupied with human things; whence S.
Augustine says: "In the beginning was the Word: see What Mary
heard! The Word was made Flesh; see to What Martha ministered!"
Eighthly, because the contemplative life pertains to that which is more
peculiar to man--namely, his intellect--whereas in the works of the
active life our inferior powers--those, namely, which we share with the
brute creation--have a part; whence, in Ps. xxxv. 7, after saying:
_Beasts and men Thou wilt preserve, O Lord_, the Psalmist adds what
belongs to men alone: _In Thy light we shall see light._
And the Lord Himself gives a ninth reason when He says: _Mary hath
chosen the best part which shall not be taken away from her_, words
which S. Augustine thus expounds: "Not that thou, Martha, hast chosen
badly, but that Mary hath chosen better; and see in what sense she hath
chosen better: because it _shall not be taken away from her_; for from
thee shall one day be taken away the burden of necessity; but eternal is
the sweetness of truth."
But in a certain sense, and in certain cases, the active life is to be
chosen in preference to the contemplative, and this by reason of the
needs of this present life; as also the Philosopher says: "To practise
philosophy is better than to become rich; but to become rich is better
for one who suffers need."
Some, however, think that the active life is preferable to the
1. "The lot which falls to the better people seems to be the more
honourable and better," as the Philosopher says. But the active
life is the lot of those who are in the higher position--of prelates,
for instance, who are placed in honourable and powerful positions; thus
S. Augustine says: "In the life of action we must not love the
honour which belongs to this life, nor its power." Whence it would seem
that the active life is preferable to the contemplative.
But it is not the active life only which belongs to prelates,
they must needs excel in the contemplative life; whence S.
Gregory says in his _Pastoral Rule_: "Let the superior be
foremost in action, but before all let him be uplifted in
2. Again, in all acts and habits the control belongs to the more
important: the soldier, for instance--as being higher placed--directs
the saddle-maker. But it is the active life which directs and controls
the contemplative, as is clear from the words addressed to Moses: _Go
down and charge the people, lest they should have a mind to pass the
limits to see the Lord._ The active life is therefore more
important than the contemplative.
But the contemplative life consists in a certain liberty of
spirit; for S. Gregory says: "The contemplative life means
passing over to a certain liberty of spirit since in it a man
thinks not of temporal but of eternal things." Similarly
Boëthius says: "The human soul must needs be free when
occupied with the thought of the Divine Mind; not so when
distracted with the things of the body." From all this it is
clear that the active life does not directly guide the
contemplative, but by preparing the way for it it does direct
certain works pertaining to the contemplative life, and in this
sense the active life is rather the servant than the master of
the contemplative. And this S. Gregory expresses when he says:
"The active life is termed a service, the contemplative life
3. Lastly, no one should be withdrawn from what is greater in order to
apply himself to what is less; thus the Apostle says: _Be zealous for
the better gifts._ But some are withdrawn from the contemplative
state of life and are made to busy themselves with the affairs of the
active life; this is the case, for instance, with those who are placed
in positions of authority. Whence it seems that the active life is of
more importance than the contemplative.
But though a man may happen to be called away from contemplation
to the works of the active life owing to the needs of the
present life, yet he is not thereby compelled completely to
relinquish his contemplation. Hence S. Augustine says: "The
love of truth asks for a holy leisure; the demands of charity
undertake honest toil--that, namely, of the active life. And if
no one imposes this latter burden on us, then we must devote
ourselves to the study and contemplation of the truth; if,
however, such a burden is imposed upon us, then must we
undertake it because of the demands of charity. Yet not even
then are we altogether to resign the joys flowing from the
contemplation of truth, lest the sweetness of such contemplation
be withdrawn from us and the burden we have assumed crush us."
Whence it appears that when a man is called from the
contemplative to the active life it is not so much that
something is withdrawn from him, but that an additional burden
is imposed upon him.
"As we have heard, so have we seen, in the city of the Lord of
Hosts, in the city of our God: God hath founded it for ever. We
have received Thy mercy, O God, in the midst of Thy temple. For
this is God, our God unto eternity, and for ever and ever: He
shall rule us for evermore."
_Cajetan:_ Those whose duty it is to instruct others in spiritual
progress should note that they are bound to take great pains to exercise
them in the active life before they urge them to ascend the heights of
contemplation. For they must learn to subdue their passions by acquiring
habits of meekness, patience, generosity, humility, and tranquillity of
soul, before they ascend to the contemplative life. Through lack of
this, many, not so much walking in the way of God as leaping along it,
find themselves--after they have spent the greater portion of their life
in contemplation--devoid of virtue, impatient, irascible, and proud, if
one but so much as touch them on this point! Such people have neither
the active nor the contemplative life, nor even a mixture of the two;
they have built upon sand! And would that such cases were rare! (_on_ 2.
182. 1 2.).
* * * * *
_S. Augustine:_ Terrified by my sins and my weight of misery I was
disturbed within my soul and meditated flight into solitude. But Thou
didst forbid it and didst strengthen me and say: _Christ died for all,
that they also who live may not now live to themselves, but unto Him Who
died for them and rose again._ Behold, O Lord, I cast my care upon
Thee so that I may live, and I will meditate on the wondrous things of
Thy law. Thou knowest my lack of skill and my weakness; teach me and
heal me! He--Thine Only-Begotten Son--in Whom lie hid all the treasures
of wisdom and knowledge, He redeemed me with His blood. _Let not the
proud calumniate me!_ When I think of my Ransom then I eat and I drink,
and I pray, and in my poverty I yearn to be filled with Him, to be among
those who _eat and are filled_ and they _praise the Lord who seek Him_
(_Conf._, X., xliii. 70).
* * * * *
_S. Augustine: He hath hid me in His tabernacle in the day of
Wherefore without any arrogance have I sought for That One Thing,
neither doth my soul reproach me, saying: Why do you seek after It? From
whom do you seek It? Do you, a sinner, wickedly dare to ask something of
God? Do you, weak man, of unclean heart, dare to hope that you will one
day attain to the contemplation of God? I dare! Not indeed of myself,
but because of His pleasure in me; not out of presumptuous trust in
myself, but from confidence in His promise. For will He Who gave such a
pledge to the pilgrim desert him when he comes to Him? _For He hath hid
me in His tabernacle in the day of evils_ (_Enarr. in Ps._ xxvi.).
Is the Active Life more Meritorious than the Contemplative?
S. Gregory says: "Great are the merits of the active life, but they
are surpassed by those of the contemplative life."
The source of merit is charity. Charity, however, consists in the love
of God and of our neighbour; and to love God is, in itself, more
meritorious than to love our neighbour. Consequently that which more
directly pertains to the love of God is more meritorious in its nature
than something that directly pertains to the love of our neighbour for
God's sake. The contemplative life, however, directly and immediately
pertains to the love of God, as S. Augustine says: "The love of
truth asks for a holy leisure; that is the contemplative life," and this
truth is the Divine Truth on Which the contemplative life is centred.
The active life, on the other hand, is more immediately concerned with
the love of our neighbour, it is _busy about much serving_. Hence
of its very nature the contemplative life is more meritorious than the
active, as is well expressed by S. Gregory when he says: "The
contemplative life is more meritorious than the active, for the latter
toils in the wear and tear of present work by which it must needs help
its neighbour; whereas the former, by a certain inward savour, already
has a foretaste of the repose to come"--that is, in the contemplation of
It may, however, chance that one man derives greater merit from the
works of the active life than another does from his contemplative life;
as, for example, when, from the superabundance of the Divine love, in
order to fulfil God's will, and for His greater glory, a man is content
to be separated for a space from the sweetness of Divine contemplation,
as the Apostle says: _I wished myself to be an anathema from Christ for
my brethren._ On these words S. Chrysostom comments thus: "The
love of Christ had so completely taken possession of his heart that he
could even despise that which he desired beyond all things--namely, to
be with Christ--and that because it was pleasing to Christ."
Yet some maintain that the active life is more meritorious than the
1. A thing is said to be meritorious because of the reward. But reward
is due to work, as S. Paul says: _And every man shall receive his own
reward according to his own labour._ Labour, however, belongs to
the active life, repose to the contemplative, as S. Gregory says:
"Everyone who is converted to God must needs first labour in toil; he
must take Lia--that is, that so he may arrive at 'the vision of the
Beginning'--that is, the embraces of Rachel." Whence it seems as though
the active life was more meritorious than the contemplative.
But while external toil makes for an increase of accidental
reward, the increase of merit as regards essential reward
consists mainly in charity, one proof of which is external toil
undertaken for Christ's sake; but a much greater proof of this
is given when a man puts aside all that pertains to this life
and delights in giving himself up solely to Divine
2. Again, contemplative life is in some sort the commencement of future
bliss; and consequently the words of S. John: _So will I have him to
remain till I come_, S. Augustine comments as follows: "This might be
more fully expressed thus: May perfect actions, modelled on the example
of My Passion, follow Me; but may contemplation begun here on earth
remain till I come, to be perfected when I come"; and similarly S.
Gregory says: "The contemplative life begins here below to be
perfected in our heavenly home." But in that future life we shall not
merit, but shall receive the reward of our merits. Consequently the
contemplative life seems to have less of the ratio of merit than has the
active life; but it has more of the ratio of reward.
But in the state of future bliss a man has arrived at his
perfection and consequently there is no room left for merit; but
if there were room left his merits would be more efficacious
owing to the pre-eminence of his charity. The contemplation of
this present life, however, has some accompanying imperfection,
and consequently there is room for improvement; hence such
contemplation does not destroy the idea of meriting but makes
increase of merit in proportion as Divine charity is more and
3. Lastly, S. Gregory says: "No sacrifice is more acceptable to God
than zeal for souls." But zeal for souls means that a man gives himself
up to the works of the active life. Whence it seems that the
contemplative life is not more meritorious than the active.
But a sacrifice is spiritually offered to God when anything is
presented to Him; and of all man's good things God specially
accepts that of the human soul when offered to Him in sacrifice.
But a man ought to offer to God first of all his own soul,
according to the words of Ecclesiasticus: _Have pity on
thine own soul, pleasing God_; secondly, the souls of others,
according to the words: _And he that heareth let him say:
Come._ But the more closely a man knits his own soul, or
his neighbour's soul, to God, the more acceptable to God is his
sacrifice; consequently it is more pleasing to God that a man
should give his soul, and the souls of others, to contemplation
than to action. When, then, S. Gregory says: "No sacrifice is
more acceptable to God than zeal for souls," he does not mean
that the merit of the active life is greater than that of the
contemplative, but that it is more meritorious that a man should
offer to God his own soul and the soul of others than that he
should offer any other external gift whatsoever.
"But thou, our God, art gracious and true, patient, and ordering
all things in mercy. For if we sin, we are Thine, knowing Thy
greatness: and if we sin not, we know that we are counted with
Thee. For to know Thee is perfect justice: and to know Thy
justice, and Thy power, is the root of immortality."
Is the Active Life a Hindrance to the Contemplative Life?
S. Gregory says: "They who would hold the citadel of contemplation
must first needs exercise themselves on the battle-field of toil."
We may consider the active life from two points of view. For we may
first of all consider the actual occupation with, and practice of,
external works; and from this point of view it is clear that the active
life is a hindrance to the contemplative, for it is impossible for a man
to be simultaneously occupied with external works, and yet at leisure
for Divine contemplation.
But we may also consider the active life from the standpoint of the
harmony and order which it introduces into the interior passions of the
soul; and from this point of view the active life is an assistance to
contemplation since this latter is hindered by the disturbance arising
from the passions. Thus S. Gregory says: "They who would hold the
citadel of contemplation must first needs exercise themselves on the
battle-field of toil; they must learn, forsooth, whether they still do
harm to their neighbours, whether they bear with equanimity the harm
their neighbours may do them; whether, when temporal good things are set
before them, their minds are overwhelmed with joy; whether when such
things are withdrawn they are over much grieved. And lastly, they must
ask themselves whether, when they withdraw within upon themselves and
search into the things of the spirit, they do not carry with them the
shadows of things corporeal, or whether, if perchance they have touched
upon them, they discreetly repel them."
Thus, then, the exercises of the active life are conducive to
contemplation, for they still those interior passions whence arise those
imaginations which serve as a hindrance to contemplation.
Some, however, maintain that the active life is a hindrance to the
1. A certain stillness of mind is needful for contemplation, as the
Psalmist says: _Be still and see that I am God._ But the active
life implies anxiety: _Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art
troubled about many things._
2. Again, a certain clearness of vision is called for in the
contemplative life. But the active life hinders this clearness of
vision, for S. Gregory says: "Lia was blear-eyed and fruitful, for
the active life, since occupied with toil, sees less clearly."
3. And lastly, things that are contrary hinder one another. But the
active and the contemplative life are contrary to one another; for the
active life is occupied with many things, whereas the contemplative life
dwells upon one object of contemplation; they are, then, in opposite
But all these arguments insist upon the occupation with external
affairs which is but one feature in the active life, not upon
its other feature--namely, its power to repress the passions.
* * * * *
_Cajetan: But the five foolish virgins, having taken their lamps, did
not take oil with them. But the wise took oil in their vessels with the
By this oil is signified testimony to a man's goodness or love of God.
For there is this difference between people who perform good works, that
the only testimony which some men have to their goodness is
without--namely, in the works themselves; within, however, they do not
feel that they love God with their whole heart, that they repent of
their sins because they are hateful to God, or that they love their
neighbour for God's sake. But there are others who so perform good works
that both their works that shine before men bear witness without to the
good soul within, and also within their own conscience the Holy Spirit
Himself testifies to their spirit that they are the sons of God; for
such men feel that they love God with their whole heart, that they
repent of their sins for God's sake, and that they love their neighbour
and themselves for God's sake: in brief, they feel that God is the sole
reason why they love, why they hope, fear, rejoice, or are sad: in a
word, why they work both within and without: this is to have oil in
one's own vessels (_On S. Matt._ xxv. 3, 4).
_S. Augustine:_ See the life that Mary chose! Yet was she but a type of
that life, she as yet possessed it not. For there are two kinds of life:
one means delight; the other means a burden. And the burdensome one is
toilsome, while the delightsome one is pleasurable. But enter thou
within; seek not that delight without, lest ye swell with it and find
yourself unable to enter by the narrow gate! See how Mary saw the Lord
in the Flesh and heard the Lord by the voice of the Flesh--as ye have
heard when the Epistle to the Hebrews has been read--as it were through
a veil. (_A new and living way which He hath dedicated to us through the
veil, that is to say, His Flesh_.) But when we shall see Him face
to Face there will be no "veil." Mary, then, sat--that is, she rested
from toil--and she listened and she praised; but Martha was anxious
about much serving. And the Lord said to her: _Martha, Martha, thou art
careful and art troubled about many things; but one thing is
necessary_ (_Sermon_, CCLVI., v. 6).
"Bless the Lord, O my soul: and let all that is within me bless
His holy Name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and never forget all
He hath done for thee. Who forgiveth all thy iniquities: Who
healeth all thy diseases. Who redeemeth thy life from
destruction: Who crowneth thee with mercy and compassion. Who
satisfieth thy desire with good things: thy youth shall be
renewed like the eagle's. The Lord doth mercies, and judgment
for all that suffer wrong. He hath made His ways known to Moses:
His wills to the children of Israel. The Lord is compassionate
and merciful: long suffering and plenteous in mercy. He will not
always be angry: nor will He threaten for ever. He hath not
dealt with us according to our sins: nor rewarded us according
to our iniquities. For according to the height of the Heaven
above the earth: He hath strengthened His mercy towards them
that fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath
He removed our iniquities from us. As a father hath compassion
on his children, so hath the Lord compassion on them that fear
Him: for He knoweth our frame. He remembereth that we are dust:
man's days are as grass, as the flower of the field so shall he
Does the Active Life precede the Contemplative?
S. Gregory says: "The active life precedes the contemplative in the
order of time, for from good works a man passes to contemplation."
One thing may precede another in two ways: firstly by its very nature;
and in this sense the contemplative life precedes the active in that it
is occupied with chiefer and better things, and hence it both moves and
directs the active life. For, as S. Augustine says, the higher
reason, which is destined for contemplation, is compared to the lower
reason, which is destined for action, as man is compared to woman--she
is to be governed by him.
But secondly, one thing may be prior to another as far as we are
concerned, it may, that is, precede it in the way of generation. And in
this sense the active life precedes the contemplative, for it conduces
to it, as we have already said. In the order of generation disposition
to a nature precedes that nature, though that nature is, simply speaking
and considered in itself, prior to the disposition to it.
But some maintain that the active life does not precede the
1. The contemplative life is directly concerned with the love of God,
the active life with the love of our neighbour. But love of God precedes
love of our neighbour, for we have to love our neighbour for God's sake.
But the contemplative life is not concerned with merely any kind
of love of God, but with the perfect love of Him; the active
life, on the contrary, is necessary for any kind of love of our
neighbour, for S. Gregory says: "Without the contemplative
life men can gain admittance to their heavenly home if they have
not neglected the good works they could have done; but they
cannot enter without the active life, if they neglect the good
works they could do." Whence it appears that the active life
precedes the contemplative in the sense that that which is
common to everybody precedes in the order of generation that
which is peculiar to the perfect.
2. Again, S. Gregory says: "You must know that just as the right
procedure is for a man to pass from the active to the contemplative
life; so, too, it is often profitable to the soul to return to the
active life." Consequently the active life is not absolutely speaking
prior to the contemplative.
But while we proceed from the active life to the contemplative
by way of generation, we return from the contemplative to the
active by way of direction, in order, that is, that our active
life may be directed by the contemplative; just in the same way
as habits are generated by acts and then, as is said in the
_Ethics_, when the habit is formed we act still more
3. Lastly, things which accord with different characters do not seem to
be necessarily related. But the active and contemplative life are suited
to different characters; thus S. Gregory says: "It often happens
that men who could have given themselves to peaceful contemplation of
God have been burdened with external occupations and so have made
shipwreck; while, on the contrary, men who could have lived well had
they been occupied with human concerns, have been slain by the sword of
their life of repose." Consequently the active life does not seem to
precede the contemplative.
But those who are subject to the influx of their passions
because of their natural eagerness in action, are for that very
reason more suited for the active life, and this because of the
restlessness of their temperament. Hence S. Gregory says:
"Some are so restless that if they desist from work they suffer
grievously, for the more free they are to think the worse
interior tumults they have to endure." Some, on the contrary,
have a natural purity of soul and a reposefulness which renders
them fit for the contemplative life; if such men were to be
applied wholly to the active life they would incur great loss.
Hence S. Gregory says: "Some men are of so slothful a
disposition that if they undertake any work they succumb at the
very outset." But he adds: "Yet often love stirs up even
slothful souls to work, and fear exercises a restraining
influence on souls which suffer a disturbing influence in their
contemplation." Hence even those who are more suited for the
active life, may, by the exercise of it, be prepared for the
contemplative; and, on the contrary, those who are more suited
for the contemplative life may profitably undertake the labours
proper to the active life, that so they may be rendered still
more fit for contemplation.
"I have cried to Thee, for Thou, O God, hast heard me: O incline
Thy ear unto me, and hear my words. Show forth Thy wonderful
mercies; Thou Who savest them that trust in Thee. From them that
resist Thy right hand keep me, as the apple of Thy eye. Protect
me under the shadow of Thy wings."
 S. Luke x. 42.
 _Ethics_, x. 7 and 8.
 _Moralia in Job_, vi. 18.
 _Of the Words of the Lord, Sermon_ ciii., _alias_ xxvi. 2.
 S. Luke x. 41.
 _Of the Words of the Lord, Sermon_ civ., _alias_ xxvii. 2.
 S. Luke x. 42.
 _Sermon_ ciii., _alias_ xxvi. 4.
 _Topica_, III., ii. 21.
 _Ibid._, III., i. 12.
 _Of the City of God_, xix. 19.
 ii. 1.
 Exod. xix. 21.
 _Hom._ III., _On Ezechiel_.
 _Of Consolation_, v. 2.
 _Hom._ III., _On Ezechiel_.
 1 Cor. xii. 31.
 _Of the City of God_, xix. 19.
 Ps. xlvii. 9, 10, 15.
 2 Cor. v. 15.
 Ps. xxvi. 5.
 _Moralia in Job_, vi. 18.
 _Of the City of God_, xix. 19.
 S. Luke x. 40.
 _Hom._ III., _On Ezechiel_.
 Rom. ix. 3.
 _Of Compunction_, i. 7.
 1 Cor. iii. 8.
 _Hom._ XIV., _On Ezechiel_.
 _Tractat._, 124, _On St. John_, xxi. 22.
 _Hom._ XIV., _On Ezechiel_.
 _Hom._ XII., _On Ezechiel_.
 xxx. 24.
 Apoc. xxii. 17.
 Wisd. xv. 1-3.
 _Moralia in Job_, vi. 17.
 Ps. xlv. 11.
 S. Luke x. 41.
 _Hom._ XIV., _On Ezechiel_.
 S. Matt. xxv. 3, 4.
 Heb. x. 20.
 S. Luke x. 41, 42.
 Ps. cii. 1-15.
 _Hom._ III., _On Ezechiel_.
 _On the Trinity_, xii. 12.
 _Hom._ III., _On Ezechiel_.
 _Hom._ XIV., _On Ezechiel_.
 ii. 1, 2.
 _Moralia in Job_, vi. 17.
 _Moralia_, vi. 17.
 _Ibid._, vi. 37.
 Ps. xvi. 6-9.
ON THE RELIGIOUS STATE
Are Contemplative Orders superior to Active Orders?
Are Contemplative Orders superior to Active Orders?
The Lord declared that Mary's was _the best part_, and she is the type
of the contemplative life.
Religious Orders differ from one another primarily according to the ends
they have in view, but secondarily according to the works they practise.
And since one thing cannot be said to be superior to another save by
reason of the differences between them, it will follow that the
superiority of one Religious Order to another must depend primarily upon
their respective ends, secondarily upon the works they practise.
And these two grounds of comparison are not of equal value; for the
comparison between them from the point of view of their respective ends
is an absolute one, since an end is sought for its own sake; whereas the
comparison arising from their respective works is a relative one, since
works are not done for their own sake but for the sake of the end to be
Consequently one Religious Order is superior to another if its end is
absolutely a superior one, either as being in itself a greater good, or
as being of wider scope. On the supposition, however, that the ends of
any two Orders are the same, then the superiority of one to the other
can be gauged, not by the quantity of works they undertake, but by the
proportion these bear to the end in view. Thus it is that we find
introduced into the _Conferences of the Fathers_ the opinion of S.
Antony, who preferred that discretion by which a man moderates all
things to fasts and watchings and similar observances.
The works, then, of the active life are twofold. There is one which
springs from the fulness of contemplation: teaching, for example, and
preaching. Whence S. Gregory says: "It is said of perfect men that
on their return from contemplation: _They shall pour forth the memory of
Thy sweetness._" And this is preferable to simple contemplation. For
just as it is a greater thing to shed light than to be full of light, so
is it a greater thing to spread abroad the fruits of our contemplation
than merely to contemplate. And the second work of the active life is
that which wholly consists in external occupation, such as giving alms,
receiving guests, etc. And such works are inferior to the works of
contemplation, except it be in some case of necessity.
Consequently, then, those Religious Orders are in the highest rank which
are devoted to teaching and preaching. And these, too, approach most
nearly to the perfection of the Episcopate; just as in other things,
too, the ends of those in the first place are, as S. Denis says, close
knit to the principles of those in the second place. The second
rank is occupied by those Orders which are devoted to contemplation. And
the third with those devoted to external works.
And in each of these grades there is a certain superiority according as
one Order aims at acts of a higher order than does another, though of
the same class. Thus in the works of the active life it is a greater
thing to redeem captives than to receive guests; in the contemplative
life, too, it is a greater thing to pray than to study. There may also
be a certain superiority in this that one is occupied with more of such
works than another; or again, that the rules of one are better adapted
to the attainment of their end than are those of another.
Some, however, maintain that the contemplative Orders are not superior
to the active Orders, thus:
1. In the Canon Law it is said: "Since the greater good is to be
preferred to the less, so, too, the common gain is to be preferred to
private gain; and in this sense teaching is rightly preferred to
silence, anxious care for others to contemplation, and toil to repose."
But that Religious Order is the better which is directed to the
attainment of the greater good. Hence it seems that Orders which are
devoted to an active life are superior to those which aim solely at
But this Decretal speaks of the active life as concerned with
the salvation of souls.
2. All Religious Orders aim at the perfection of charity. But on those
words in the Epistle to the Hebrews, _Ye have not yet resisted unto
blood_, the Gloss has: "There is no more perfect charity in this life
than that to which the holy Martyrs attained, for they strove against
sin even _unto blood_." But to strive _unto blood_ belongs to the
Military Religious Orders, and they lead an active life. It would seem,
then, that these latter are the highest form of Religious Order.
But these Military Orders are more concerned with shedding the
blood of their enemies than with shedding their own, which is
the feature of the Martyrs. At the same time, there is nothing
to preclude these Religious from at times winning the crown of
martyrdom and thus attaining to a greater height than other
Religious; just as in some cases active works are to be
preferred to contemplation.
3. Lastly, the stricter an Order the more perfect it seems to be. But
there is nothing to preclude active Orders from being stricter in their
observance than some contemplative Orders.
But strictness of observance is not that which is especially commendable
in Religious life, as S. Antony has already told us, and as is also said
in Isaias: _Is this such a fast as I have chosen, for a man to
afflict his soul for a day?_ Strictness of observance is, however, made
use of in Religious Orders for the subjection of the flesh; but if such
strictness is carried out without discretion there is danger lest it
should come to naught, as S. Antony says. Hence one Religious Order is
not superior to another because its observances are stricter, but
because its observances are directed to the end of that Order with
greater discretion. Thus, for example, abstinence from food and drink,
which means hunger and thirst, are more efficacious means for preserving
chastity than wearing less clothing, which means cold and nakedness;
more efficacious, too, than bodily labour.
 S. Luke x. 42.
 _Conf._, ii. 2.
 _Hom._ V., _On Ezechiel_.
 _Of the Divine Names_, vii.
 _Extrav. Of Regulars and of those who pass to the Religious
Orders_, cap. _Licet_.
 xii. 4.
 lviii. 5.
Abiding in Christ, 32
Abraham in Limbo, 155
Accidents of the Holy Eucharist, 9
Active Life, the: its meaning, 170, 174, 176, 221, 229;
typified in Jacob's Vision, 231;
typified by Lia, 174, 222, 225, 234, 242, 246;
two features of the Active Life, 221, 241, 247;
in what sense it is distinct from the Contemplative Life, 220;
how less meritorious than the Contemplative Life, 240-244;
not preferable to the Contemplative Life, 233-240;
it involves less sacrifice than the Contemplative Life, 244;
in what sense it precedes the Contemplative Life, 223, 237, 245,
how far it is necessary, 186, 221, 239, 245, 250;
contrasted with the Contemplative Life, 172, 173;
how far it is more stable than the Contemplative Life, 232;
its dangers, 136, 147, 186;
it is a burden super-imposed upon the Contemplative Life, 238;
all are not meant for it, 186, 251, 252;
it will not persist after this life, 229-232;
the Active Life of the Angels, 231;
how far the Active Life is inferior to the Contemplative, 233-240;
occasions when it must be embraced, 186, 235, 239;
the part which the Moral Virtues play in it, 191, 220-223;
it is a preparation for the Contemplative Life, 176, 177, 220, 237,
prudence is requisite for it, 186, 223-226;
how far the teaching life pertains to the Active Life, 226-229, 230;
it will pass away, 177, 191, 229-232;
it is the Purgative way, 220;
Prelates and the Active Life, 236
Active Religious Orders, they are inferior to the Contemplative, 253-257
Adjure God, in what sense we are said to do so in our prayers, 148
Adoration of the Cross, 37
_Adoro Te Devote_, the rhythm of St. Thomas in honour of the Holy
Albert of Brescia, O.P., 18
Albert the Great, Blessed, 6
Alypius, St. Augustine's friend, 123
Ambrose, St.: on God as the cause of devotion, 57;
that the beauty of the soul depends on the Moral Virtues, 184
Andronicus on the meaning of sanctity, 49
Angels, the: how they are differentiated from men, 113, 114, 187, 206;
the knowledge of the Angels, 157, 187, 205, 208, 230;
the Beatific Vision of the Angels, 231;
the intelligence of the Angels, 187, 230;
the intercession of the Angels, 165;
their conformity to the will of God, 165, 167;
the Angelic Hierarchies, 201, 230;
the teaching of the Angels 230, 231;
the Active Life of the Angels, 231;
we shall be like to the Angels, how, 230, 231;
Angels gird St. Thomas, 6
Anselm of Laudun, 25
Antony, St.: a patron against Hell-fire, 160;
on discretion, 154, 157
Areopagite. _Cf. s.v._ Denis the Areopagite
Aristotle: on the aptitude for virtue, 35;
on honour, 39;
that the perfection of the moral virtues lies in their mean, 43;
on Justice, 55, 221;
that "reason asks for the best things," 69;
on the need of temporal things, 89;
that "each man's life is that which he would wish to share with his
that "to live is to be," 170;
on action and contemplation as distinctions in the intellectual life,
that life is primarily in the vegetative soul, 171;
on three kinds of lives, 175;
that knowledge has little to do with the moral virtues, 182, 221;
that every act of the intellect may be termed "consideration," 188;
that the ultimate happiness of man consists in the contemplation of
the highest truth, 193;
of man's dependence on the imagination, 201;
that motion is the act of a perfect thing, 203;
on local motion as the chief of bodily motions, 204;
that delight follows upon a perfect work, 213;
on the nobility of science, 214;
that there is no pleasure contrary to that derived from thought, 217;
on application to the Contemplative Life, 217;
that the Contemplative Life is "beyond man," 218;
that prudence pertains to active happiness, 223;
that he who commits adultery to steal is more a thief than an
that prudence is the right mode of procedure in our actions, 224;
that the ends of the moral virtues are the principles of prudence,
that the proof of the possession of wisdom is the power to teach, 228;
eight proofs that the Contemplative Life is superior to the Active,
on the better lot, 236;
that habits produce perfect acts, 251
Arius, his error regarding the Person of Christ, 161
Athanasius, St., on the chanting of the Psalms, 123
Attention: mental, 225;
in prayer, 125-133;
three kinds of, 128, 129, 133
Attitudes in prayer, 150, 151
Augustine, St.: St. Thomas's kinship with him in doctrine, 17-19;
they are seen in a vision together, 18;
the Breviary Hymn to, 26;
definition of religion, 28, 29, 30;
on _Latvia_, 30;
on _Eusebeia_, 31;
on abiding in Christ, 32;
on the desire of God, 32;
on prayer for wealth, 33;
on sacrifice, 32, 46;
of true worship, 40;
of idolatry, 46;
on the value of external acts in prayer, 46;
of virginity, 50;
on "God alone," 54, 92, 108, 142, 197, 189, 203, 219;
on the will and the understanding, 57;
on true grief, 65;
prayer defined, 69;
why we should pray, 75;
on the prayers of the Church, 76;
when we pray we are God's beggars, 79, 110;
of those who say "He knows already; why then pray?" 80;
of the knowledge the dead have of our affairs, 82;
on shrinking from death, 83;
on avoidance of Hell, 86;
of the Beatific Vision, 87, 229;
a prayer for continence, 87;
and for the knowledge of Holy Scripture, 88;
it is lawful to pray for what it is lawful to desire, 89;
on prayer for "sufficiency of life," 89;
on "seeking first the Kingdom of God," 90;
on prayer "without ceasing," 91;
of the prayer of desire, 92, 134;
his prayer for deliverance from toothache, 92;
why temporal favours are sometimes not granted, 94, 95;
on prayer for others, 96;
that we cannot here distinguish between the predestinate and the
on the imprecations in Holy Scripture, 100, 101;
on prayer for the wicked, 101;
on the Lord's Prayer, that it is the most perfect form of prayer, 102;
on "our Daily Bread," 103, 109;
"hallowed be Thy Name," 104;
"Thy kingdom come," 105;
"Thy will be done," 105;
"forgive us our trespasses," 110, 111;
of the Lord's Prayer and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, 106;
of the two versions of the Lord's Prayer in St. Matthew and St. Luke,
on true righteousness, 111;
on exterior religion, 119;
on the chanting of the Psalter, 123;
on the prayer of the heart, 124;
on distractions, 129-131;
on prayer at definite times, 134;
on the brief prayers of the hermits of old, 134;
on "much speaking" in prayer, 135;
that God urges us to pray, 138, 139;
that prayer is a gift of God, 139;
on unheard prayers, 140, 142;
on prayers heard in anger, 142, 143;
in what sense the prayers of sinners are heard, 143, 144;
on the attitudes to be adopted in and of the time and place for
prayer, 127, 150, 151;
of the knowledge of the Saints in Limbo, 154-156;
why the prayers of the Saints are heard, 167;
the Contemplative contrasted with the Active Life, 172-174, 186;
the three "lives," 175, 185;
the "mixed" life, 226;
of the final possession and vision of God, 176, 177, 191, 203;
on the use of leisure, 186;
the claims of the two lives, the Active and the Contemplative, 186,
of the Active Life, 236;
of the Active Life as opposed to the Contemplative, 238;
that every operation of the intellect may be termed "thought," 188;
of the derivation of the term "speculation," 189;
of our present perfection, 190, 191;
on the pleasures of sense, 185;
that the contemplation of God is the goal of all our acts, 193;
that we must use created things as stepping-stones to the things that
abide for ever, 193;
on Mary's "better part," 196, 197;
on Martha and Mary, 234, 235, 248;
that in contemplation we do not see God Himself, 199;
the greater the danger in the battle, the greater the joy in the
on the transitory nature of our present contemplation, 218;
on the beauty of the teaching life, 227;
how the moral virtues remain after death, 230;
of the repose of Contemplation, 230, 241;
of his desire for solitude, yet he feels that he must work for others,
he dare hope for the Contemplative Life, 240;
of the higher reason, 249
Basil, St.: on distractions, 127, 128;
on unheard prayers, 141
Beatific Vision, the, 87, 153, 172, 176, 177, 180, 181, 193, 198-203,
Beatitude, in what it consists, 172, 176, 177, 181, 191, 198, 218, 219,
Beatitude, a prayer for, 192
Beauty, definition of, 185
Benedict, St., the vision of, 202
Bernard, St.: on the meaning of contemplation, 188, 189;
of the steps in contemplation, 194
Bestial Life, the, 175
Birds, the movements of, 209
Blood of Christ, the, 163
Boëthius, on the liberty needful for contemplation, 237
Cajetan, O.P., Cardinal, 19, 20;
on the meaning of Religion, 50;
on the meaning of devotion, 53, 54;
on its causes, 60;
on devotion as opposed to gloom, 64;
of the "devout female sex," 62;
of the need of meditation, 61;
of prayer as the cause of union with God, 71;
of prayer as a real cause, 74;
on three points to be considered in prayer, 78;
on prayer as a sacrifice, 79;
of the divisions of the Lord's Prayer, 107, 108;
how those in Limbo can hear prayers, 118;
on vocal prayer, 121, 123;
on the tone to be employed in saying Mass, 122;
the function of ecclesiastical chant, 122, 124;
on attention in recitation of Divine Office, 128;
on attention to the words of Consecration, 149, 150;
of the need of the moral virtues in the Contemplative Life, 239;
the Parable of the Ten Virgins, 247;
on the real object of prayer, 129
Canticle of Canticles, the, 14
Cassian, the Conferences of: on St. Antony and discretion, 254, 257;
on different kinds of prayer, 148
Cassiodorus on Ps. xxxviii. 13, 68
Cato on respect for parents, 30
Ceremonial, the value of, 35
Chant of the Church, the Public, 122, 123
Charity as the principle of religion, 56.
_Cf. s.v._ Theological virtues
"Christ, pray for us," why we do not say, 160, 161
Christ, the Name of, on the foreheads of Christians, 219
Chrysostom, St.: the _Opus Imperfectum in Matthæum_ falsely attributed
to him, 24;
on prayer as a conversation with God, 74;
on prayer for others, 95;
in public, 121;
on prayer for sinners, 143;
on prayer through Jesus Christ, 145;
on the zeal of S. Paul, 242
Church customs, 158, 163
Church, the prayers of the, 81
Cicero, on religion, 27;
on prudence and intellectual quickness, 224
Circular movement of the soul, 172, 203-210
Cleanness, 47, 184
Collect for Friday in September Ember Week, 147;
for Trinity Sunday, 147, 148
Compline, St. Thomas's devotion at, 14
Communion of Saints, 158, 164
Conformity to the will of God, 86
Consecration, the Prayer of the, 147, 149, 150
Contemplation and the Contemplative Life: the meaning of
_contemplation_, 188, 189, 196, 201, 202, 211, 230, 234, 235, 237;
it is something beautiful in the soul, 184;
not purely an affair of the intellect, 179-182, 189;
its relation to the affective powers, 211;
the place which reason occupies in contemplation, 195, 210, 211, 225,
the place occupied by the imagination, 195;
in what sense contemplation involves many acts, 187-192;
how far contemplation may be described according to the three species
of motion--circular, direct, and oblique, 172, 203-210;
contemplation is natural to man, 210;
it is pleasurable, 211;
it is primarily concerned with God, 180, 241, 250;
it does not, in this present life, fall on the Divine Essence as such,
its ultimate goal, 180, 184, 187, 193, 194, 196, 198, 203, 229;
its ultimate goal in this life, 212, 220;
how it is distinguished from meditation and thought, 188;
and from speculation, 189;
four integral parts of contemplation, 193, 194;
four phases in it, 194;
six steps in it, 195, 196;
the contemplation of this present life, 193, 213, 214;
not on earth as in Heaven, 176, 177, 217, 243;
it is "beyond man," 218;
a busy life does not exclude it, 238;
it is lawful to desire it, 240;
contemplation and ecstasy, 200;
four subjects of contemplation, 194;
the repose of contemplation, in what it consists, 204, 205, 234, 235,
_The Contemplative Life_: its meaning, 184, 186, 237, 250;
how it is distinguished from the Active Life, 169, 173, 220, 234, 235;
it is superior to the Active Life, 233-240;
it is more meritorious than it, 240-244;
its great merit, 242;
it is prepared for in the Active Life, 239, 245-249;
the Active Life precedes it, 249-252;
the Contemplative Life directs the Active, 251;
the relation of the Contemplative Life to the Theological virtues,
and to the Moral virtues, 182-186, 221, 222, 239;
it demands temperance, 184, 185;
and chastity, which it in turn fosters, 184, 185;
it calls for the subjection of the passions, 184, 185;
it results in the subjugation of the passions, 213;
it involves a certain liberty of spirit, 234, 237;
it is often distasteful, 215, 216;
it means the sacrifice of our own soul, 244;
its joys, 177, 197, 210-216, 234, 248;
its combats, 212, 213;
it is imperfect here on earth, 243;
it is not incompatible with Prelacy, 236;
its relation to the office of teaching, 236-239;
it is not meant for all, 235, 236, 239, 241, 251, 252;
reading is sometimes necessary for it, 190;
how far it refrains from all external actions, 182;
it is typified by Rachel, 174, 180, 184, 234, 242;
also by Mary of Bethany, 174, 190, 197, 234, 235, 248;
it is foreshown in Jacob's Vision, 231
Contemplative Religious Orders: in what sense they are the best, 253-257
Continence, a prayer for, 87
Conversation, sins of, 110
Correction, fraternal, 97
Created things must serve as stepping-stones, 193
Cross, Adoration of the, 37
Cyprian, St., on _Our_ Father, not _My_ Father, 96
Damascene, St. John: on Wonderment, 189;
definitions of prayer, 69, 71, 85, 142, 148
Dead, Prayers for the, 167, 168
Death, fear of, 83
Decii, the, 52
Defects, the thought of our, causes devotion, 63, 64
Delights, earthly, as opposed to heavenly, 215, 216
Denis the Areopagite, 24;
on sanctity, 49;
on ecstasy, 55;
on beginning all with prayer, 70;
on being co-workers with God, 154;
of the knowledge of the Angels, 157;
of the harmony in Divine things, 158;
that life implies motion, 171;
on the three movements of the soul, 172, 203-210;
of the difference between the Angelic and the human intellect, 186;
that the goal of contemplation is to attain to the uniformity of the
Divine contemplation, 218;
that in contemplation here on earth we do not see the Divine Essence,
on the illumination of the Angels, 230;
of the Divine harmony, 255
Desires, their function and necessity, 77, 91, 105
Devotion: defined, 51, 53, 55, 57, 64;
is a special act, 51;
is due to an act of the will, 53, 57;
is an act of the virtue of Religion, 57;
is the principal act of the virtue of Religion, 54;
involves sacrifice of the heart, 64;
it gives a certain measure to human acts, 52;
it means promptitude, 53, 55, 56, 57;
two causes of it, 57, 62, 63;
caused by meditation, 57;
especially by meditation on the Sacred Passion, 59, 63;
on the goodness of God, 58, 60;
on our own defects, 58, 60;
obstacles to it, 62;
how far it may be hindered by learning, 60;
it is productive of sorrow, 62-64;
but is not therefore to be confounded with gloominess, 64, 65;
it produces joy, 62, 63;
devotion to the Saints, 57;
the devotion of women, 59, 62;
the "devout female sex," 62
Direct movement of the soul, the, 172, 210-213
Discretion, St. Antony on, 254, 257
Distractions, 127. _Cf. s.v._ Prayer, distractions in
Divine Office, attention in the recitation of, 128
Denis the Areopagite on, 55;
that of St. Paul, 199, 200
Ejaculatory prayers, 134, 135
Enemies, prayer for, 99;
love of our, 99
Eternity: the "repose" of, 86, 87, 92;
the "silence" of, 87
Etymologies, those of St. Thomas and St. Isidore, 24
Eucharist, the Holy: the Accidents of, 9;
St. Thomas's reception of It as Viaticum, 15;
the "Chief" of the Sacraments, 103;
our "Daily Bread," 103, 109;
the rhythm, _Adoro Te Devote_, 112
Example, the force of, 222
Exterior religion, 45
External actions, 182, 183
Extraordinary ways of God, the, 3
Faber, Father, 2
Faith, 191, 192
Faith and Vision, 87
the gift of fear, 34;
fear of death, 23;
of Hell, 36
Female sex, the "devout," 62
"Forgive us our trespasses," 110, 111
Fossa Nuova, 14
Frederic, the Emperor, 8
Gifts of God, 92;
of the Holy Spirit, 105, 106
Gloom, not a characteristic of the Saints, 64, 65
Gloss, the, on Holy Scripture, 24, 25
God: God alone, 92, 247;
in what sense we "adjure" Him in our prayers, 148;
by prayer we become His beggars, 79, 110;
He is not changed by our prayers, 86, 107;
does not need our external acts of religion, 43, 46;
His foreknowledge involves no compulsion, 72;
His goodness is a reason for prayer, 107, 149;
His Holiness is a reason for prayer, 147;
the harmony of Divine things, 158, 159;
He knows beforehand what we seek, 80, 161;
He knows the heart, 157;
the majesty of God, 189;
the Patience of God, 130;
we do not pray to Him alone, 80-84;
He does not always hear our prayers, 142, 143;
why He wishes us to pray, 74, 86, 107, 138;
He does not profit by our service, 43;
on seeking after God, 54, 134, 179, 180, 183, 192;
He is the First Principle, 180;
the Ultimate End, 182;
ultimate union with Him, 109, 191;
union with Him, 69, 208;
we can hope for it, 240;
hindrances to it, 103, 104;
the Vision of God, 153, 155, 163, 172, 177, 180, 181.
_Cf. s.v._ Beatific Vision; the Antecedent Will of God, 163
_Greeks, On the Errors of the_, St. Thomas's treatise on, 14
Gregory the Great, St.: on Lia as the type of the Active Life, 222, 225,
234, 242, 246;
of Martha and Mary as types of the Active and the Contemplative Life
on attention at prayer, 126;
on the intercession of the Angels, 165;
on the conformity of the Angels to God's Will, 167;
how the prayers of the Saints avail, 167;
that the Contemplative Life is occupied with God alone, 180, 184, 192;
that contemplation in this life does not attain to the Divine Essence,
that contemplation excludes all images, 201;
of St. Benedict's vision, 202;
on the true sweetness of contemplation, 210;
contemplation springs from and leads to love of God, 212;
on the combats of the Contemplative Life, 212;
that knowledge of God brings about the death of all carnal desires,
of the joys of the spiritual life, 215, 216;
on disgust for spiritual things 215, 216;
of the Active Life, 221, 225;
on teaching as falling under the Active Life, 226;
as due to contemplation, 227;
that the Active Life passes away, not so the Contemplative Life, 229;
of the Contemplation of the Angels, 231;
on the instability of our present contemplation, 232, 243;
of the merits of the Contemplative Life, 240, 241;
that those who are Superiors can still practise the Contemplative
that the Active Life precedes the Contemplative, 224, 245, 249;
of zeal for souls, 243, 244;
of the necessity of the Active Life, 250;
_contemplata aliis tradere_, 254;
that the Blessed in Heaven know our needs, 82;
not all are called to the Contemplative Life, 251, 252
Gregory of Nyssa, St., of joys and sorrows, 64
Gregory X., Pope, 14
Guidonis, Bernard, 6
Habits, 35, 251
Harmony of Divine things, 158, 159
Harmony of reason, the, 183
Heaven: there will be no books in, 111;
it is our "Fatherland," 166-168, 173
Hope, 191, 192
Hugo à St. Caro, 6, 25
Hugh of St. Victor's: on attention at prayer, 126;
on intensity, 126
Images, veneration of, 37
Imagination, its function, 195, 201
Imprecations in Holy Scripture, 100
"Insinuation" in prayer, 141
Intelligence, quickness of, 224
Intellect, the noblest part of man, 79, 80
"Intercession" as a part of prayer, 146
Intercession of the Saints, 161
Interior Spirit, the true, 247
Interpretive prayer, 163
Isaias, St. Thomas's Commentary on, 10
Isidore of Seville, St.: his etymologies, 24;
on religion, 27;
on the word _sanctus_, 48;
on prayer, 68
Jacob's Vision, 231
Jeremias prays for the people, though he is in Limbo, 115, 118, 162
Jerome, St.: on the error of Vigilantius, who said the prayers of the
Martyrs were not heard, 115, 162;
on making "a virtue of necessity," 35;
on the term "super-substantial" Bread, 103
John of St. Julian, O.P., 5
John XXII., Pope, 23
Josias, King of Juda, in Limbo, 155
Joy as an effect of devotion, 62
Joys of Contemplation, the, 210-216
Justice, the chief of the Moral Virtues, 37, 55, 221
Knowledge, its relation to the Moral Virtues, 182
_Latria_, 30, 34, 44
Leo the Great, St., on the Jews, 56
Lia, the type of the Active Life, 222, 225, 234, 242, 246
Liberty of Spirit, 237
Life: definitions of, 169, 170, 171, 187;
considered as intellectual, life may be divided into the Active and
the Contemplative, 171, 174;
_cf. s.v._ Contemplative Life and Active Life;
the Active and Contemplative Life compared, 233-257;
the two Lives distinguished, 169-177;
their relative order, 249-252;
the "mixed" life, 175, 185;
the Life of Beatitude, 191;
the bestial life, 175;
the busy life, 175;
the civil life, 175;
the leisurely life, 175, 185;
the pleasurable life, 175;
the life of repose, 172, 173;
the life of toil, 172, 173;
the voluptuous life, 176
Limbo, 118, 154-156
Litany of the Saints, 158
Living for Eternity, on, 83
Livy on the Decii, 51
Lombard, Peter, 25
Lord's Prayer, the: the seven petitions of, 105-111;
the most perfect form of prayer, 105;
distractions in saying it, 132;
why we say _Our_ Father, and not _My_ Father, 96;
this prayer is recited in the name of the whole Church, 145;
in what sense we are tied to this restricted form of prayer, 136, 137;
the Lord's Prayer as a subject of meditation, 192
Lyons, the Council of, St. Thomas summoned to it, 14
Lyra, Nicolas de, his Gloss, 25
Martyrs: the prayers of the, 162-164;
merits of the Martyrs, 256
Marvel, what it is to, 189
Mass, the: to be said distinctly, 122;
the Prayers of, 147;
the Prayer of the Consecration in the Mass, 149, 150
Maximus Valerius, _On Socrates_, 84
Meditation, 188, 190;
causes devotion, 57;
produces sadness as well as joy, 62-65;
the need of it, 61;
not to be neglected for vocal prayer, 123;
fruitful subjects for, 60;
meditation on the Sacred Passion, 59;
on choosing subtle subjects for meditation, 58, 60, 61
Melancholy, no fruit of devotion, 64, 65
definition of, 166;
source of, 240;
merits and rewards, 242;
none in Heaven, 166, 243;
of the Active and Contemplative Life, 240-244;
the merit of prayer, 141;
those of the Saints, 163;
how we can merit for others, 141
Military Religious Orders, 256
Monica, St., 123
Monte Cassino, 4
Moral Acts, their nature, 225
Moral Virtues, the:
Justice is the chief of the moral virtues, 221;
requisites for the moral virtues, 41;
their place in the Contemplative Life 182-186;
their function, 41, 43, 183-185;
their part in the Active Life, 220-226;
how far they remain after death, 230
Movements of the soul, the three, 172, 203-210
Necessity, to make a virtue of, 35, 44
Nestorius's error concerning the Person of Christ, 161
Novelty of St. Thomas's teaching, 6, 7
"Obsecration" as a part of prayer, 147-149
Observance, strictness of, 257
Office, attention at the Divine, 128
Origen on sanctity, 47;
on not swearing, 148
Passion, Meditation on the Sacred, 59, 63, 128
Peter Lombard, 25
Philosophy is better than riches, 236
Prayer to St. Thomas before study, A, 16
Prayer: _defined_, 68, 69, 76, 78, 85, 102, 1O5, 127, 136, 148;
it is an act, 161;
not an act of the appetitive powers, 68, 71, 77;
it is an act of the virtue of religion, 76-80, 161;
after devotion, prayer is the highest act of the virtue of religion,
it is a conversation with God, 74;
by it we become God's beggars, 110;
it is peculiar to the rational creation, 112-114;
in what sense the brute creatures pray, 114;
prayer is a gift from God, 139;
three requisites for prayer, 146;
four requisites for prayer, 138;
the real meaning of "petition," 78, 79;
the prayer of desire, 92, 105;
in what sense desire is not prayer, 77, 78;
prayer is a real cause, 72, 74, 166
_Why we should pray:_
prayer is reasonable, 71-76, 107, 120, 147;
the merit of prayer, 125, 137-143;
the effects of prayer, 71, 120, 125, 132, 138;
prayer causes union with God, 70, 71
_Errors concerning prayer:_
in general, 72;
it is not an adjuring of God, 148;
it never wearies God, 79, 80;
"much speaking" in prayer, 135;
it cannot change God's decrees, 72, 73, 86, 107, 161;
it does not "bend" His will, 86;
God knows beforehand what we would pray for, 73, 75, 80, 86, 120
_Of prayers heard and unheard:_
the condition necessary if our prayers are to be heard, 89, 96, 141,
of prayers heard in anger, 142, 143;
in what sense the prayers of sinners are heard, 143-146;
the prayers of the poor are speedily heard, 69;
how the prayers of the Saints are heard, 162, 168;
the prayers of the Martyrs and Apostles, 162, 163;
why prayers are not heard, 142;
of unheard prayers, 140;
why our prayers for others are sometimes not heard, 96;
in what sense the prayers of sinners are heard, 143-146
_How we should pray:_
at regular intervals, 134;
our attitude in prayer, 150, 151;
beginning occupations with prayer, 70;
prayer "without ceasing," 91, 137;
attention at prayer, 125;
three kinds of attention, 120, 133;
distractions, 121, 127-133;
the length of our prayers, 133-137;
hindrances to prayer, 75;
the recitation of Psalms, 123;
prayer "in spirit and in truth," 126;
weariness in prayer, 134
_What we should pray for:_
the impetratory value of prayer, 138, 141;
what we should pray for in general, 129, 142;
for Beatitude, 85-87;
prayer for definite things, 84-88;
for "sufficiency of life," 89;
against death, 83;
for continence, 87;
for knowledge of Holy Scripture, 88;
for deliverance from toothache, 92, 94;
for others, 95, 97, 98, 229;
for the wicked, 97;
for the good, 98;
for our inferiors, 98;
for temporal blessings, 89-95;
for the predestinate, 167;
for our enemies, 99-102;
the Saints in Heaven pray for the resurrection of their bodies, 116
_To whom we should pray:_
not to God alone, 80-84;
to the Angels, 81;
to the Saints, 157-161;
to the lesser Saints, 117
_Who pray for us, and how:_
the Angels pray for us, how, 114;
in what sense the Son and the Holy Spirit are said to pray, 113, 115;
how the Holy Spirit helps our prayers, 85;
the Saints pray for us, 115-118;
how, 156, 163, 166, 167;
how we merit the prayers of the Saints, 162;
how our prayers are known to the Saints, 152-157;
those in Limbo prayed for those on earth, 118;
those in Purgatory cannot pray for us, 117
_Divers forms of prayer:_
vocal prayer, 119-125;
ejaculatory prayer, 134, 135;
prayer in secret, 121;
prayer of the heart, 124;
thanksgiving as a part of prayer, 149;
postulations as a part of prayer, 146-148
_The Lord's Prayer:_
we say not "my Father," but "our Father," 96;
the seven petitions of the Lord's Prayer, 102-111;
the Lord's Prayer not said without distractions, 132;
in what sense we are tied to the Lord's Prayer as a formula, 136, 137
_The Church's prayers:_
in general, 76, 147, 158;
public and private prayers, 119, 121, 122, 135;
how the prayer "of many" avails, 98;
the prayer of the Consecration at Mass, 149, 150
Prelates and Contemplative Life, 236
Prosper, St., the _Book of Sentences Gleaned from St. Augustine_, 140
Prudence: its relation to the other Moral Virtues, 224;
it is requisite for the Active Life, 223-226
Purity of soul, 252
Purgatory: why the suffrages of the Church do not empty it at once, 167,
the souls in Purgatory do not know our needs, 83;
neither do they pray for us, 83, 116, 118;
Brother Romanus passed sixteen days in Purgatory, 12
Rabanus Maurus: his Gloss, 25;
on Prayer, 69
Rachel, a type of the Contemplative Life, 163, 174, 180, 184, 234, 242
Reading necessary for prayer, 190
Reason: its function, 206;
the higher and the lower, 249;
the speculative and the practical, 68
Religion: the virtue of, 27-50;
that it is a virtue, 34;
definition of, 27-31, 39, 49;
its principle is charity, 56;
it is one virtue, 35;
and a Moral Virtue, 40;
and a special virtue, 37-39;
not a Theological Virtue, 39;
the _via media_ in, 41;
the harmony of, 42;
is superior to the other Moral Virtues, 42;
is not for God's profit, but for ours, 43;
demands external acts, 44;
how far it is identified with sanctity, 47-50
Religious Orders, the Active and Contemplative compared, 253-257
Religious people, 31, 50, 61;
they are not always Saints, 50
Reposeful characters, 252
Romanus, Brother, appears to St. Thomas, 12
Sacrifice, the real nature of, 38, 46, 244
Saints, the: what it is to be a Saint, 50;
they are not gloomy, 64, 65;
their knowledge of our needs, 82, 152-157;
their prayers for us, 115-118;
they feel no grief for us on earth, 155;
their wills are perfectly conformed to that of God, 116, 156, 163,
the Communion of Saints, 158, 164;
we ought to pray to them, 157-161;
of devotion to the Saints, 57;
to the lesser Saints, 117, 160;
they are co-workers with God, 154;
in what sense their prayers are always heard, 158, 162-168;
their merits, 163, 166;
how they pray for us, 163, 167
"Saint of Saints, The," 160
Scripture, prayer for knowledge of Holy, 88
Seneca: on petitions, 74;
on idolatry, 46
Sentences, the Book of, 6, 25
Sinners, prayer for: 97;
the prayers of sinners, 143-146
Sins of conversation, 110
Socrates on prayer, 84
Solicitude, how far it is forbidden, 90
Sorrow, as an effect of devotion, 62, 64
Spirit, the Holy, how He helps us to pray, 85
"Spirit and truth," prayer in, 126, 127
Stability implied in the notion of sanctity, 49
Strabo, Walafrid, his Gloss, 24
Strictness of life not an end in itself, 257
"Sufficiency of life," prayer for, 89
Suffrages for the Dead, 167, 168
_Summa Theologica_: the broad divisions of, 19, 20;
the method employed in, 21, 22;
the _Tertia Pars_, 13
Superiors and Contemplation, 238
Supererogation, works of, 44
Supersubstantial Bread, 103
Supplications as a part of prayer, 146
Swearing, Origen on, 148
Teaching: in what it consists, 227, 228;
due to Contemplation, 227;
how far it belongs to the Active Life, 226-229;
the beauty of the teaching life, 227;
how the Angels teach, 231
Temperance: a necessity for the Contemplative Life, 184, 185;
how far it is identical with sanctity, 50
Temporal things: the part they play in our life, 89;
they are "stepping-stones" to Heaven, 91;
how far they may be asked for, 89-95
Thanksgivings as part of prayer, 147
Theological Virtues, the, 39-41, 191, 192
Thomas Aquinas, St.: born at Rocca Secca, 4;
his early occupation with Divine things, 5;
goes to Monte Cassino, 4;
to Naples University, 5;
receives the habit of the Friars Preachers, 5;
is sent to Santa Sabina, 5;
is imprisoned, and studies the Bible, the _Sentences_, and the
Philosophy of Aristotle, 6;
is created Bachelor in Theology, 6;
the novelty of his teaching, 7, 8;
created Master in Theology, 7;
says he would prefer to possess St. Chrysostom's Commentaries on the
Gospel according to St. Matthew to the possession of the city of
hears from Our Lord's lips, _Bene scripsisti de Me, Thoma_, 10;
his three petitions, 8;
his prayer before study, 8-11;
is visited by St. Peter and St. Paul, who explain to him a passage of
Brother Romanus appears to him, 12;
his approaching end is revealed to him, 12, 13;
the Crucifix speaks to him, 13;
he ceases to write, 14;
his emotion on hearing the words, _Ne projicias nos_, sung, 14;
is summoned to the Council of Lyons, 14;
his faith in the Holy Eucharist, 9, 15;
his dying words, 15;
his rhythm, _Adoro Te Devote_, 112;
the method of his teaching, 19;
his teaching is regarded as miraculous, 23;
his use of the works of the Fathers, 16, 18, 23;
his teaching and that of St. Augustine, 16-18;
his self-effacement, 23
Tocco, William of, biographer of St. Thomas, 5 _note_, 6, 8, 9, 11, 15
Toothache: St. Thomas's deliverance from it, 93;
St. Augustine's deliverance from it, 93
Trinity, the Holy: how to pray to, 81;
the _Collect_ for Trinity Sunday, 147
Union with God, 3, 197, 198.
_Cf. s.v._ God
Valgornera, _Theologia Mystica_, 1
_Via media_ in religion, 41
Vigilantius's errors regarding prayer, 117, 162
Virgins, the five wise and the five foolish, 247
Virtue: definition of, 34;
its praiseworthy character, 43;
it lies in the will, 43
Walafrid Strabo, his Gloss, 24
Will: the object of the, 57;
its functions, 52, 70;
the part it plays in the Contemplative Life, 179-181
Women, the natural devotion of, 59
Worship: in what it consists, 41
Zeal for souls, 243, 244
INDEX OF TEXTS QUOTED OR EXPLAINED
xxix. 17; 184
xxxii. 30-32; 200, 214
iii. 6; 117
iii. 14; 176
xiii. 6; 117
xix. 21; 136, 237
xx. 1-17; 42
xxxv. 20, 21; 52
i. 18; 120
xv. 19; 73
vii. 18; 150
xviii. 42; 150
xxii. 50; 155
xxix. 31; 52
v. 1; 80, 157
xiv. 21; 152
xvi. 20-23; 210
xxxi. 14; 226
xxxi. 23; 236
v. 5; 177
vi. 7; 151
vi. 11; 99
x. 17; 69
xv. 2; 43
xv. 5; 32
xv. 5, 6; 172
xv. 9; 120
xv. 11; 177
xvi. 6-9; 252
xxiv. 6-11; 177
xxvi. 4; 70, 136, 197
xxvi. 5; 240
xxvi. 8; 120
xxxii. 20, 21; 137
xxxiii. 9; 211, 216
xxxiv. 13; 97, 137
xxxv. 7; 235
xxxvi. 23-25; 146
xxxvii. 10; 91
xxxviii. 4; 57
xxxviii. 13; 68, 143
xxxix. 13; 120
xli. 3; 63
xli. 1-6; 182
xlv. 11; 235, 246
xlvii. 9; 13
xlvii. 9, 10, 15; 238
xlix. 13; 46
l. 19; 64
liv. 1-7; 150
liv. 23; 95
lvii. 11; 100
lviii. 7; 43
lxv. 8-12; 232
lxx. 17, 18; 76
lxx. 20; 14
lxxii. 21-28; 192
lxxii. 28; 58
lxxv. 4, 5; 129
lxxvi. 1; 32
lxxvi. 4; 62
lxxix. 4; 85
lxxxiii. 3; 44
lxxxiii. 12; 81
lxxxv. 1-5; 125
xciv. 3; 46
xcvi. 7; 113
cii. 1-15; 249
ciii. 33, 34; 80
cxviii. 35; 85
cxviii. 145; 124
cxx. 1, 2; 58
cxx. 4; 80
cxxxviii. 14; 194
cxl. 2; 76
cxli. 1; 119
cxlii. 4-7; 132
cxlii. 5, 6; 194
cxliii. 15; 191
cxliv. 13; 104
cxlv. 1; 130
cxlvi. 9; 114
xxviii. 8; 144
xxx. 8; 89
vii. 14; 97
vii. 7; 190
viii. 2; 185
viii. 16; 171, 204, 210
ix. 15; 132, 213
xv. 1-3; 244
xxviii. 2; 146
xxx. 24; 244
xxxvi. 1-3; 102
xxxvi. 16-19; 114
xli. 1-6; 223
xliii. 33; 41
xii. 1-6; 219
xxv. 8, 9; 198
xxvi. 3,4,8,9; 201
xxxii. 17; 184
xxxiii. 13-17; 181
xlvi. 10; 104
lviii. 5; 256
lxiii. 15, 16; 88, 154
lxiv. 8, 9; 71
lxv. 24; 70
vii. 16; 97
xiv. 8,9; 186
xv. 1; 96, 164
xxxi. 34; 231
iii. 19; 63
ix. 14; 160
ix. 18, 19; 147
x. 12, 13; 165
xiv. 3; 120
ii. 4; 190
i. 6; 36
iii. 14; 72
xv. 14; 115, 162
v. 8; 184
v. 44; 99
vi. 6; 121
vi. 7; 135
vi. 8; 80
vi. 9; 136
vi. 9-13; 84
vi. 25; 90
vi. 32; 73
vi. 33; 90
vii. 7; 78
xviii. 10; 157, 231
xxii. 30; 165
xxv. 3, 4; 247
i. 49; 104
i. 74, 75; 47
vi. 12; 135
vi. 13; 139
ix. 55; 57
x. 39; 190
x. 40; 241
x. 41; 234, 248
x. 42; 216, 233, 248, 253
x. 43; 235
xi. 2-4; 84, 106
xv. 13-16; 61
xviii. 1; 71, 133, 137
xxii. 43; 135
iv. 24; 45, 85, 126
v. 16; 95
ix. 31; 144
xi. 3; 146
xiv. 8; 177
xiv. 16; 113
xvi. 23; 96
xvii. 1-5; 111, 177
xvii. 24; 98
xix. 1-5; 56
xxi. 22; 243
vii. 59; 151
xv. 9; 177
xx. 36; 151
i. 20; 45, 193
vii. 24; 213
viii. 26; 85, 113, 198
viii. 31; 32
viii. 38, 39; 48
ix. 3; 241
xiii. 10; 183
xv. 4; 99
xv. 30; 98, 158
i. 11; 98
iii. 8; 242
iv. 5; 177
vi. 9, 10; 104
ix. 16; 44
x. 31; 134
xii. 31; 237
xiii. 8; 217
xiii. 12; 176, 213
xiv. 14; 126
xiv. 15; 82
iii. 18; 189
iv. 18; 90
v. 6; 131
v. 6, 7; 190
v. 15; 239
x. 31; 38
xii. 7-9; 139
iv. 14; 32
v. 13; 30
i. 4; 76
iv. 5, 6; 35
iii. 20; 65
iv. 7; 198
iii. 3, 4; 176
v. 17; 91, 133, 137
i. 5; 191
ii. 1; 146, 147
ii. 4; 86
iii. 5; 144
iii., iv., v.; 92
vii. 25; 115
x. 20; 248
xii. 4; 256
xii. 14; 48, 184
i. 6; 141
i. 27; 28
iv. 3; 85
v. 16; 95
1 St. John.
iii. 2; 176, 197, 231
iv. 19; 107
v. 16; 97
vi. 10; 100, 164
vi. 11; 164
viii. 4; 81
xv. 1; 164
xxii. 17; 244
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